This charming little portrait shows a child wearing a safety device apparently common among extra-careful parents in the middle of the 19th century: a safety helmet, made of padded wood, prettily concealed under lace ruffles. I saw the painting at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, Netherlands, as part of a special exhibit on Russian Romantic painting. This 1831 painting is by Jan Adam Kruseman.
Then as now, parents worried. Infant mortality was beginning to improve, but childhood was still full of dangers. Parental love for this particular child, no doubt from a very privileged background, shines through in this portrait.
Little girls today wear equally pretty helmets, for riding bikes and skateboards.
More macho helmets are available for the well-dressed and well-protected little boy. The love and concern of parents for their children is a common denominator linking us to generations past.
Join me next time for more explorations into the art and history of Europe!