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Den ideala barndomen: Studier i det stormaktstida barnporträttets ikonografi och funktion
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Art History.
2001 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Ideal Childhood : Studies in the Iconography and Function of Children´s Portraits in Sweden in the 17th Century (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis deals with a previously neglected category of 17th-century Swedish portraiture, that of royal and aristocratic children. In an introductory chapter the situation pertaining to the commissioning of portraits and their execution is described, with particular reference to the commissioning of children's portraits. The next chapter looks at the portraits of royal children in relation to views on the monarchy. Following an account of the oldest known portraits of Swedish royal children from the middle of the 16th century to the end of the reign of Gustavus Adolphus there is an analysis of the early Christina iconography. It is argued that the numbers of portraits of Christina together with their iconography fulfilled a need to manifest the continued strength of the Swedish throne in spite of the youth of the regent.This intention together with a theocratic view of the monarchy is abundantly evident in the early portraits of the queen who is portrayed in roles such as the daughter mourning her father or the worthy monarch full of virtue and wisdom.The early portraits of Charles XI, Charles XII, Hedvig Sofia and Ulrika Eleonora the Younger are related to the historical and political situation obtaining in the Caroline period. Here the court painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl plays a significant role as conveyor of an internationally established portrait iconography that also reflect the Caroline monarchy's dynastic claims and the matter of the royal succession.

The fourth chapter analyzes the portraits of aristocratic children against the background of contemporary views about childhood and gender roles as expressed in literature concerned with fostering children and in funeral orations. The fact that children are presented as small adults is explained by a desire to mirror future adult roles. Where the iconography in the portraits of the virgin state particularly emphasize the virtues and inner characteristics that were of importance to future wives and mothers in accordance with Lutheran ideals of the day, the portraits of aristocratic young men focus particularly on future professions such as soldiery or government service. The shift in style in Swedish portraiture that took place about 1650 is related in the study to the salon culture that was manifested in art, poetry, festivities and ceremonies. It is in portraits of the youngest children that one finds elements that are at variance with those of adult portraits. The children are shown wearing tunics appropriate to their age and with objects like amulets and corals which, it was believed, could protect children from serious illnesses.

In the final study portraits of deceased children are analyzed against a background of the period's high valuation of family and traditions, religious notions about death and child mortality. The deceased children are shown on their deathbeds, as living surrounded by symbols of transitoriness or in allegorical presentations. Many of the portraits include symbols that can be related to the metaphors concerned with corruptibility in contemporary burial odes. This is particularly evident in the section treating the manifestations of mourning surrounding the deaths of the Caroline princes Ulrik, Gustav, Fredrik and Carl Gustav from the 1680s when some of Sweden´s leading artists, sculptors, composers and literary figures were employed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: BTJ Seelig and Raster Förlag AB , 2001. , 384 p.
Keyword [en]
Art history, children´s portraits, the concept of childhood, portraiture, 17th century Swedish art, funeral portraits, upbringing literature, gender roles, Queen Christina, Charles XI, Charles XII
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Art History
Research subject
History Of Art
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-1427ISBN: 91-87215-16-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-1427DiVA: diva2:160952
Public defence
2001-10-19, Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2001-10-15 Created: 2001-10-15Bibliographically approved

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