Cherishing Children: Childhood and the Noble Family in Early Modern Spain

  • October 25, 2023
  • Online


In this virtual lecture, Grace E. Coolidge (Grand Valley State University) discusses images of the children of the early modern Spanish elite.

This lecture by Grace E. Coolidge, professor of history, Grand Valley State University, is part of the Meadows Museum’s Further Afield lecture series.

The early modern Spanish elite saw their children both as beloved members of the family and as valuable assets in a larger dynasty. Fathers and mothers thus cherished their young children, providing them with care and education, and also carefully controlled the marriages and careers of their teenage sons and daughters to ensure their futures and the future of the family.

Paintings from the early modern period illustrate both these concerns, ranging from tender portrayals of Mary and Joseph caring for the infant Jesus to portraits displaying noble and royal children as potential wives and heirs. The care and training of elite children took place within the complex, changing world of the noble family, which was routinely transformed through death, remarriage, illegitimacy, and sibling rivalry.

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$5; free for Meadows Museum members.