Children in Paris: The Birthday Boy and Friends
January 14, 2017 - October 8, 2017
Children became a popular subject in French art in the 1880s and 1890s. Their youthful faces and childhood innocence, along with the daily routines of caring for them, attracted some of the greatest artistic talents of the period. This focused exhibition presents works on paper with children as their subject, by Cassatt, Renoir, Lepère, and others.
A highlight is a series of prints depicting Robert Besnard (1881–1914), the birthday boy in Mia’s beloved masterpiece by John Singer Sargent, The Birthday Party, exhibited nearby. In seven prints in Mia’s collection by Albert Besnard, Robert’s father, we watch the boy grow up. In one he is a fashionable toddler walking in the park; a year later he is sipping hot chocolate in his mother’s bedroom. At age 7 he is old enough to have a donkey. The etchings offer a rare document of a century-old boyhood, and they also suggest a new date for Sargent’s painting.