Childrens of the Golden Age

The exhibition includes drawings, prints and paintings, offering visitors a wide-ranging overview of the subject of the representation of children in seventeenth-century Holland and Flanders.

Individual portraits of children predominate: from the charming girl by Nicolaes Maes, to the iconic effigy of Hugo Grotius who, from the height of his sixteen years of age, already surveys the world with a serious gaze; from little Jenneken busy writing, drawn in red chalk by her brother Harmen ter Borch, to the delightful portrait that Hendrick Goltzius engraved of the son of one of his best friends. These last three portraits represent children who can be identified by the inscriptions they bear; other depictions however – like the one painted by Nicolaes Maes – contain no identification of the model.

Artists often portrayed children while they are sleeping. Sleep is a state that occurs regularly with all children, and it is no surprise to see Frans van Mieris’ drawing of Willem Paets, the son of one of his friends, asleep in his cradle. In the drawing by Govert Flinck, one of Rembrandt’s best students, we have a magnificent study, almost certainly drawn from life, of a sleeping boy. Here, the innocence and vulnerability of childhood are strikingly represented.Rembrandt also frequently drew and etched children, often as they interacted with women (mothers, grandmothers, nurses), or with the features of the young apprentices in his workshop.

In addition to these well-known sheets, the exhibition also contains a large number of items from the Fondation Custodia’s collection which have never been shown before, as well as some recent acquisitions. The way Dutch and Flemish artists of the 17th century looked at children and childhood offers today’s viewer both a glimpse into a bygone era and a mirror for our own perceptions on the first years of life.

June 8 – August 25, 2019


121 rue de Lille 75007 Paris

01 47 05 75 19