JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 1014
It also doesn't appear as art in artwork. It is possible to find numerous examples of kids' scratches in stone and such in ancient graffiti, but it doesn't appear as elements of fine artwork, or, for that matter, in book illustration.
Also it seems to me that the artwork for pre-school age children looks about the same—3-year-old kids drawing images of other people tend to look pretty much identical, and so this way over many centuries. No doubt some group has studied this in depth and in detail, though I don’t know about it—to me, by seat-of-the-pants reckoning, the representations of people/animals/sun/sky and so on look like they can be coming from the same classroom, even when the art is coming from different centuries and from different parts of the globe. (At least for the 99% of them.) I find this remarkable. Then of course things happen, children change, they get schooled, educated, informed, indoctrinated, and on and on. But for that early period, the art of children has a spectacular commonality.
Reigning this in, the issue of childhood art was again rallied after finding an illustration of children’s school art—there was a sort of diorama, but then there was also an image of clay figures made by kids…and then there was the sand castle. I honestly cannot recollect ever seeing a hundred-year-old image of a child’s sand castle. Some woodcut must appear in Harper’s Weekly or some such magazine, showing play at the beach, perhaps the castle making an incidental appearance at the edge of the scene. I was struck by the picture, and by its (perhaps) rarity. I have no doubt that kids having been building things in sand and mud forever; whether there are many published pictures of the results, I really don’t know.
There is another fine example (pictured above, at top) in Thomas Truman's The Nurse's Rhyme Book, a New Collection of Nursery Rhymes, published in
Believe me, after having dealt with books and prints as an antiquarian for almost 30 years, and also having a collection of sorts of antiquarian childrens' arts, pictures like this just don't surface very often at all. Over the years I've made some annoying phone calls and emails to librarians at art galleries (especially at the National Gallery in DC where I was a pester) explaining my interest and trying to find out if this struck any bit of memory in their brains--I never once had a positive answer. (I expected at some point that someone would say, "Oh yes, of course--there's a census of that that Mr. Kemp of Yale did in 1977”. Or something, some sort of memory for this kind of image.) This is hardly an academic pursuit, but my occasionally ritualistic clawing seems to bear out that these things are just not available.
All I have to go with here is the sheer emotion of seeing some of these pictures--they strike such an utterly deep chord, and are so astonishing, and personal,and so completely resonating, that I know they are important.. In a way I think that whatever is in the picture in that little boy's hand from 1847 is what everyone is looking for