In the Middle Ages, children usually were portrayed in art as miniature adults with no childish characteristics. In the 16C, images of children began to acquire a distinct childish appearance. From the 17C onwards, children were shown with tulips, toys & pets.
1590s Adriaen van der Linde (Dutch artist, 1560-1609) Portrait of a Young Girl, Adriaen van der Linde wearing coral necklaces & holding a rattle & basket
Before the 18C, children in portraits were usually dressed in the highest adult fashion appearing stiff & uncomfortable.
;1603 Attributed to Adriaen van der Linde (Dutch artist, 1560-1609) Three-Year-Old Boy with Colf Stick
Many of these children seem to be posed on a flat dark stage made up of a patterned black & white floor, typical of domestic interiors in the Netherlands in this period. During the 1600s, a shift in philosophical & social attitudes toward children & the notion of 'childhood' began in Europe. Adults increasingly saw children as separate beings, innocent & in need of protection & training by the adults around them. Many of these portraits show the child in an interior, totally protected from the wild nature outside.
1605 Artist van Zelven (Probably a German artist) Portrait of a Child with a Dog is the only recorded work by an artist who is identified on the floor tiles.
As the 17C progressed, artists increasingly portrayed children near windows showing nature and gardens beyond. Some actually began to paint children in natural settings or surrounded by natural objects. The children themselves draw the viewers' attention to nature, some point to a natural object, some carry baskets of fruit or flowers, others play with birds or pets.
1609 Circle of Jan Claesz (Enkhuizen painter, b 1570- a 1618) An eight-year-old boy, possibly of the Blauhulck family, with his horse.
1611 Paulus van Somer (Flemish artist, c. 1577 -1621) Child with a Rattle, Fruit, & a Dog
1609 Circle of Jan Claesz (Enkhuizen painte, b 1570- a 1618) An eight-year-old boy, possibly of the Blauhulck family, with his horse & dog
1620s Unknown artist Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Garland of flowers
1625 Unknown Artist of the Dutch school, Girl with cherries & doll.
1627 Attributed to Robert Peake the Elder (active 1576–1626) A young Boy aged Four of the Howard Family in an interior.
1629 Attr to Dirck Dircksz van Santvoort (Dutch artist, 1610-1680) Portrait of a Child in an interior aged Two Holding a tame Parrot
1629 Unknown artist of the Dutch School Two Little Dutch Children in an interior with a view of Nature, Aprons, Holding Apples, Cherries, & a Straw Bag.
1630s Jan Cornelisz van Loenen (Dutch artist, 1590-1630) Portrait of a Little Girl
1631 Unknown artist Sarra de Peyster in an interior. Inscription [at upper left] Sarra Depeyster AEtatis 30 Maenden 23 Mey 1631 The child here is holding a precious tulip.
1632 Artist said to be a David Finnon, Small Girl with Remembrance Coin & cherries.
1632 Jan Anthonisz van Ravesteyn (Dutch painter, 1572-1657) Portrait of Joannes de Ruyter, 1632 - Princess Salimah Aga Khan.
1634 Harmen Willems Wieringa (Dutch painter, c 1597-1645) Portrait of Ida Catharina van Paffenrode with a Dog and a Basket of fruit.
1635 Unknown artist of the Dutch (Friesland) School Portrait of a Girl, Aged One, with a Rattle and a Coral Necklace in an interior
1636 Unknown artist Child in an interior with a coral necklace & rattle holding a pricey white tulip during a period where tulipmania was still strong & the tulip was precious.
1644 Unknown artist of the Dutch School Portrait of a Boy, Aged Three, with a Large Hat & a Parrot
1646 Portrait of a Child with a Toy Goat by an unknown Dutch artist
1650 Unknown artist of the Dutch School Young Boy with Flowers
1657 Jan Jansz. de Stomme (Dutch painter, 1615-c 1657) Portrait of Evert en Reint Lewe with hats & coral necklaces.
1664 Cesar Pietersz, or Cesar Boetius van Everdingen (1616-17-1678) Two-year-old Boy with an Apple and a Bird.
1680 Arent de Gelder (Dutch artist, 1645-1727) Portrait of a child, presumed Mattys Decker (b.1679)
If you are interested in the role of children in 17C Europe & its evolution, you might wish to read one of these books.
Ariès, Philippe. 1962. Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life. Trans. Robert Baldick. New York: Knopf.
Badinter, Elisabeth. 1981. The Myth of Motherhood: An Historical View of the Maternal Instinct. London: Souvenir.
Boswell, John. 1988. The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance. New York: Pantheon.
Cunningham, Hugh. 1995. Children and Childhood in Western Society since 1500. London: Longman.
Dekker, Jeroen, Leendert Groenendijk, and Johan Verberckmoes. 2000. "Proudly Raising Vulnerable Youngsters: The Scope for Education in the Netherlands." in Pride and Joy: Children's Portraits in the Netherlands 1500−1700, ed. Jan Baptist Bedaux and Rudi Ekkart. Ghent, Belgium: Ludion.
Griffiths, Paul. 1996. Youth and Authority: Formative Experiences in England 1560−1640. Oxford, UK: Clarendon.
Haas, Louis. 1998. The Renaissance Man and His Children: Childbirth and Early Childhood in Florence, 1300−1600. New York: St. Martin's.
Heywood, Colin. 2001. A History of Childhood: Children and Childhood in the West from Medieval to Modern Times. Cambridge, UK: Polity.
Krausman Ben-Amos, Ilana. 1994. Adolescence and Youth in Early Modern England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Macfarlane, Alan. 1986. Marriage and Love in England. Modes of Reproduction 1300−1840. London: B. Blackwell.
Mause, Lloyd de. 1974. The History of Childhood. New York: Psycho-history Press.
Pollock, Linda. 1983. Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500 to 1900. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Pollock, Linda. 1987. A Lasting Relationship: Parents and their Children over Three Centuries. London: Fourth Estate.
> Roberts, Benjamin B. 1996. "Fatherhood in Eighteenth-Century Holland: The Van der Muelen Brothers." in Journal of Family History 21: 218–228.
Roberts, Benjamin B. 1998. Through the Keyhole. Dutch Child-rearing Practices in the 17th and 18th Century: Three Urban Elite Families. Hilversum, Netherlands: Verloren.
Schama, Simon. 1987. The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. New York: Knopf.
Shahar, Shulamith. 1990. Childhood in the Middle Ages. Trans. Chaya Galai. London: Routledge.
Shorter, Edward. 1975. The Making of the Modern Family. New York: Basic Books.
Stone, Lawrence. 1977. The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500−1800. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.ed. Jan Baptist Bedaux and Rudi Ekkart. Ghent, Belgium: Ludion.