Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
From LoC, entitled " Young Housekeepers ", this series from a popular press included images of this couple during courtship, a wedding, etc. Their penultimate, finale - the introduction of ' Baby '
Thanks to @John Hartwell 's thread on PT Barnum's baby ' exhibit ', one result of our country's veritable baby mania, thought a look at pervasive, era devotion to all-things-baby would be explanatory.
In 2018 we delight in the ' hidden mothers ' genre of photography. Mothers wearing quilts wrapped around their heads, dressed as curtains, chairs and rugs or disembodied fingers holding rotund cuteness is a wonderful, flukey thought- not so odd if one's baby was the focal point.
PT Barnum's knowledge of human foibles ( heck, humans across the board ) knew no bounds. His ' genius ' consisted of a shrewd, frequently exploitive understanding of what makes us tick. Banking ( literally ) on this country's middle Victorian devotion to all-things-romantic, he gave the public babies on parade, as it were. Why, in a country where babies could suffer the indignity of being abandoned and sold, we could concurrently worship them could have to do with war's tragic shadow. Life in the midst of death. Cute life.
Also LoC, this idyllic for-purchase family scene is an image drawn from life- however saccharine it appears in 2018. Mom recovering ( remember that? ), Dad, Grandmother and siblings meeting the new little one. These were in demand for a reason- we cherished babies, or at least tried.
Too many patterns devoted to baby wear to count appeared in periodicals like Demorests, Godey's, McClures and a plethora of ' Lady's Companion ' publications. We have some era christening gowns but nothing this elaborate- a confection befitting the new ruler of the household.
Then ( well, we see it in 2018 too ), it was possible to scare mothers into purchasing remedies guaranteed to keep their baby well. High mortality rates from disease probably helped sales quite a bit. Can't say worms are problematic 150 years later although diaper rash figures large.
Era periodicals adored images of adored babies- fictional or not, we bit.
Slightly post war, a baby was frequently a good reason for a family portrait. This is just one of my favorites- there are dozens.
A reason to go to war, a baby at home. ( pretty sure this is another hidden mother portrait, so the whole family is represented )
Believe it or not, this ad would have drawn ire. ' Hand feeding' was considered lax- and frequently attacked as child abuse. It was a mother's solemn, sacred duty to provide mother's milk.
Babies as fairies, cherubs and in this case somehow a royal couple running ( flying ) into matrimony would be typical, idealizing all three. Saccharine? Of course. As a delightful indication of a baby's place in the world? Perfect.