Family Picture: The Idealized Family

                            Famous families have long since been set as an example of how domestic life and families should be conducted and displayed.  The portraits were also meant to show off the rich lifestyle of the families who were the subject but also the symbolism of some portraits were meant to serve as propaganda for the country. By looking at portraits of families, some famous and others fictional, one can see trends in trying to create an idealized example of what domestic life, or how the family should be portrayed. Using Portraits from the 1400-1900, one can compare trends, themes and ideals through the centuries.                                                                                             When looking at the selection of works, take careful note of the different domestic activities taking place in each portrait. Notice the different positioning of family members and how they interact with each other, take note of any figure that appears to be the most important in the portrait and what ideals they are meant to convey to their audience.

This portrait of Maximilian I and his wife Mary of Burgundy includes the image of their dead son, Philip the Fair, Philip's children and the boy on the right is an adopted heir to the throne of Hungary. Both of Philips children become Holy Roman Emperor and through Louis of Hungary Maximilian controls the Hungarian throne. Having Louis, Charles, Ferdinand and Philip within the portrait, exhibits the families strength and dynastic control.
This portrait of Henry VIII and his three children, is meant to be an allegory for peace. Elizabeth I and Edward IV stand to one side while Mary I and her husband stand on the other. Elizabeth and Edward stand for Peace and prosperity while Mary and Philip stand for war; this is emphasized by the god Mars wearing army standing with them. The piece is protestant propaganda against Catholic dynasty.
This portrait of Louis XIV and his family is meant to portray him as the son god Apollo and his family is wearing Romanesque garments. It is meant to show the wealth and power of the family.
This family is enjoying decadence. They are partaking of wine, good company and music, and all of the members are smiling and laughing and the house is in dissary. Also note the two children sneaking a bit of wine in front of the table.
This family appears very relaxed, the father is sketching in the background, while mother is leaning in to kiss her smiling child while another lounges on the couch. The oldest daughter stands seriously while the baby plays on her grandfathers knee. A doll lays on the floor in left corner.
The Washington family sits together pouring over maps, most likely of America. His wife is pointing something out on the map and his daughter looks intent on it. What could the family be conversing about?
This is a portrait of Queen Victoria, her husband Albert and six of their children. The British royal family was meant to be the standard and example for the Victorian values and style of living and often wanted pictures and portraits of their family partaking in domestic activities.
This scene depicts the two women of the family in the kitchen with the children. They appear to be enjoying a meal while the grandmother figure works at cutting bread, the mother nonchalantly feeds the horse. Notice that there are no patriarch male figures in the painting.
This scene depicts a family taking part in domestic activities in the parlour. Father reads the newspaper, while mother teaches one daughter to sew and a boy is reading a book of to the side, most likely a bible or atlas. Two children play with the baby on the floor and toys are set out in the left hand corner.
This portrait shows family and friends gathered round while the matronly figure reads from the newspaper. depictions of otherwise private, domestic family practices are to set an example on how a family should behave.
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