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Welcome invitation to walk into the Museum of Fine Arts. In Boston. Now they say that comes out of life. And there are certain experiences that we all we have all been children. In childhood. It was a time of Dub's those perplexities the child walks the world in a in a state and one another in a world of ours. And nobody seems to understand the child's world. And we can only re-enter childhood carrying our adult experience on our backs as it were. Bringing all our new missions with us so that we tend to recreate childhood as something golden and remote and perfect. Perhaps we are so sentimental because. Childhood is a season of the season that doesn't return. It is perishable and plant. We should try and cover their season tonight. And looking at the eyes of this girl painted by Idella. We shall try and explore the world of childhood that strange and wonderful world that lies behind.
You know psychologists say that it's the first six years of life. In which the patterns of motivation and behavior which affect us all our lives are first for. What I think the poet puts a better George dressed or when you say he's in hidden shadows and Twilight. Where childhood a strain. The world's solders were born and its heroes were made. In the last boyhood of Judas. Preist was betray. The Lost boyhood. Which often becomes the sentimental a nostalgic and the difference you know between good honest sentiment and sentimentality. Sentiment is an integration of bringing together the giving of form to feeling sentimentality is the disintegration as a falling apart it's something sticking about in. Its. Daily question. That's the word liquid and dissolved. Perhaps
we can see something of the sentimentality that we mean here in this picture. By Thomas Allen. It's well painted it's fresh it's got an innocence and lots of virtues. Quite subtle. But perhaps the key to it is in the fact. That Thomas was sent back. To England from Philadelphia. Again he had been there before. To immortalize a rather doubtful privilege to immortalize Queen Victoria or something Victorian about this picture. It lacks the honest impartial eye. It shows us child and as we would like it to be rather than as it is this child. This child as is seen from a distance and the artist does not fully enter the child's world. But there are good things about it. As I said you see the way the light coming down from the top. It's a shadow on the face. Like a cupped hands. And then that is the wonderful little invention of the tone and the splash of sunlight that comes through when it's a public party. Now that's an invention it doesn't look like something that you borrowed from anywhere and when you keep looking at
pictures you notice these things are useful invention although indeed there's nothing wrong and borrowing and pictures just as long as you can make it work. In pictures as in love and war. Everything is fair. Well you know this little boy is torn had he turned up again 30 40 years later in a poem written by John windy which has some of the same condescending Victorian attitude to childhood intends to see the child. As a miniature nappy. Maybe you remember it. It goes missing on the little man. Burford boy with cheek of 10 with I turned up pantaloons and I was tortured. With fire red. Lip. Readers still. Kissed by you strawberries on the Hill how do you like that and then comes our picture with the sun shining on my face through a torn brain. He's drunk and then it goes on. From my heart I give the joy. Once I was a barefoot boy.
Although one perhaps wouldn't quite think it from that point but you know what he had as a better poet than that. There are some moments that are really fetching and we still remember remember Barbara Ficci I learned that 3000 miles away from here at school. Maybe as you did and it has this wonderful pulse running through it all day long. Frederick Street. It sounded that the marching feet you remember there. That's much better. Well now let's get out into the open air into the full lazy heat of summer. And discover a man who paints with the honest impartial eye of which we spoke a moment ago. When he does make one feel protected for sentimental his boys are. And here is a real there's an end of reality that brings us back to childhood. Like a like a like a slap on the cheek. Like a dash of cold water. And you know this is particularly wonderful Now I'll tell you why. You know how in childhood and boyhood it's now all that matters the eternity is in the now. As Blake said
eternity in an hour. There is no future no past. Only the person is here when the two boys are drawn into the mood of the surroundings and this seems a very real discovery of the reality. We could use such a long distance phone line as a child. And you hear. That now. And look at the background here this letter which is punctuated here and there to give added interest and to Elmer's painting. At his best you generally. From the most human get it in his eye and look at the scene to see that it affords a chat up the sunlight. As it is reflected so the sunlight itself seems to move on the sleeve as one watches first and the something else this is a sort of American impressionism an interest in life independent from tension question. And look at the way this is painted and you
look at this you can see the brush strokes. It's as if you were watching over the artist's shoulder. Sharing the joy that he had in painting. A wonderful picture. Well now let us pass from American impressionism the French Impressionism from Homer's two boys to rend us to go. Then we go from grave American prose to French poet in order to understand is a great change. Here is another culture and another way of seeing another pair of eyes which. You know. Legalism that we saw a moment ago. I always think of it as a painting from outside in reaching out and grasping the subject and painting from within our it is literacy. You impose your whole vision on the world. You make the world and poetry reality with the imagination until it creates as it moves then the mood is of springtime and of the girls and their particular springtime too
and you see how we get to this effect it tilts up his horizon so that the whole. Round the hoom grass there is a jungle of spring colors that are wonderful yellow and blue and green and touches the heart and you know it's really exciting you can lose your eye in it. And that's marvelous. They are they are just as the boys in a great triangle in the sim. And to see that go see the type that when walking apes under that boat shaped head which itself is like some fantastic flower is her face hidden in shadow with a downcast eye keeping it away from us preserving them unaware of others. The two of them as they sit. And do you see this heavy voluptuous face just tucked in three spots the nose the mouth and the chin to give it a freshness and around us of this young passing from door hood to
woman. It's a wonderful thing. Let us look at Renoir painting again. And it has come now. From these doors to a little boy was much more appropriate than they were. And. This picture we could talk about for the whole half hour it is quite marvelous. And. His head is tilted and his body so that it gives an alert sort of air to him like an animal listening and in this case which look like you can see two black eyes crystallized out whichever And I'm going to use gaze very different from the withdrawn inward look of the Durango with which we start. You know this picture is full of invention full of little things which which really when you look at them slowly out of view you see the contrast of light and dark between the eyes and the face. Well when one here paints another contrast in the background the dark background unusual for NY and it is the color this background of which rights we used. It's
wonderfully purple like a blues to purple and for contrast just this little postage stamp of fight left in with his name written on it. Another contrast another line Lynas to the picture as is given by this little blue ribbon as a friend who's in and out of the picture and contrasts with the shimmer of the flechette stuff. And the dress. You know this is really a. Childhood's face the face of childhood. The tabula rasa. The tablet which life has yet has not written anything. The bones are not come to either of age. Or. Out of experience. Sheets. You know children of terribly factsheets journal under five minutes because they have got what they call these buckled heads of hair. Which swell out their face for a very practical reason. They have to suck it enables them to see. And hear is the world of childhood. Revealed in a picture which is full of invention with all it's going to do. For the girl
with sympathy and with understanding. You know this little boy. His father was a friend of mine was. And the schoolboy himself. Eventually grew up. To be a tailor. And now we spoke about the curiosity of that outgoing gaze and childhood is a time of curiosity it is a time when the child is only that weapon to discover the world around him. Is a time to when he has little experience in the bank with which to measure a new experience again. So he is in danger of making false judgments then which in later life become principles of action. And that's why psychologists are always going back to the beginning of life to childhood because the principles of action and belief in top form then. When the child had enough experience really to deal with them maybe influencing behavior. Now. I always think of. Wordsworth's lying there in shades of the prison house begin to close around the growing boy. And indeed they. Were talking about childhood in the world of
childhood. There is one psychologist who died over 50 years ago. The great William James but his phase on childhood is still quoted by psychologists. When he called Childhood. A great big little man buzzing confusion. And so if. The child has got to learn to use his five senses he's got to learn to estimate distance in space so that it can find his way and death among objects and take on his own existence as an individual. And he's got to associate perhaps. The red glow of the fire with its heat and with the possibility of pain. All growth as a learning process. As we grow older we learn. We share. And I have. This instinct of curiosity as in I'm a discovery uses five senses touch sight everything including his map. That's one of the great organs of investigation in childhood and he's always putting everything into his mouth. And this curiosity is a wonderful insight. WHY WHY WHY WHAT IS THIS WHAT IS THAT ALL THESE often
questions and their curiosity when it survives into a day. Can be a very wonderful thing. You remember the old guy over 80 when he wrote under one of his last lithographs. A graphic art. I am still learning. Do you remember the old Rembrandt. Twisting deep put in deep into the recesses of his own spirit. Always curious and the intense curiosity of Leonardo twisting in and out when the world around him. Well we're getting a long way away from Renoir's dark eyed little boy seen with such adult understanding and humorous tenderness. Let's get to another boy who was also seen with affection. Realistic and yet 10. Now this boy is played by John Singleton couple. Out of Singleton couple. And his half brother Henry Pelham. And Helen is the son of Peter Cullen because when the
father Copley disappeared the widow copy married again. And these half brothers Copley the subject and the painter they they were good friends they got on very well during their lifetime and wrote touching the letters to each other. And. The copies were Irish you know and this boy never lost contact with his mother's people back in Ireland and never did and when he grew up he went back to Ireland and he married an Irish girl. And he actually died rather tragically he was brown and they were building a bridge across the river in town to carry. He was an engineer but he was also an artist. This boy. You know he was because he's got a very sensitive face and see the the understanding with which company shows us this boy in a half dreaming moment when the defenses are down and we can look fully within into this world of boyhood a little unsure a little uncertain and look at the wonderful texture another silky and stuff that makes us want to reach out and touch it always copy does that.
It's texture texture with the early play. He excites the sense of touch. When our company was a strong powerful provincial painter I need all the strength of that position and some of the weakness he was downright he was forceful. But occasionally he had a certain naive ateliers a certain lack of sophistication which comes out in a rather than dealing way in some of the early pictures. I think it comes out you know look at the way that it seems not properly articulated this seems to be open to life there and it's that little thing that we see in some of the early copies. It's like a man who's learned to speak a language perfectly but to make still an odd little mistake in grammar. Now it is moved down to something very wonderful as we pass over and discover these reflections on the table which again excite the eye and the sense of touch. Boy what a squirrel he calls it an anonymous loan out of the gallery and you see there in the telecom service he doesn't hold it like that or he doesn't hold it like that they bend their fingers like that so we have a moment of elegance and charm and grace
and it is the year's little things that give the touch of class to an artist. These are the little things which make the difference between a painter was first class and one who is not. In our company taught a lot of this picture himself. And you know it was a turning point in his life in many ways. He sent it to the Royal Society of artists in London and 1766 it was two years before the Royal Academy was formed. And he centered. With it because he didn't sign it. And you can imagine this provincial boy you know sending this picture to the center of the artistic world. Well he got a happy you've got a heavy set by us because the picture was a sensation. And he got messages of congratulation from Benjamin West another American intern who was doing very well over the and from the Gran 10. Of. Paintings. Joshua Reynolds the great Sir Joshua Reynolds. And here is what Sir Joshua wrote to him. He's sure capable of producing such a
piece by the mere efforts of your own genius. With the advantages of example and instruction the two would have in Europe. You would be a valuable exposition of the art and one of the first painters in the world. Provided. You could receive the use age before it was too late in life. And before your men out and taste were corrupted affects it by working in your. Little way. In Boston. Actually. It was after a couple went to England that his manner and taste were corrupted just. Because he lost his own strong and forceful style and his style became somewhat artificial and forced as he tried to follow the grand style. As preached. About always practiced. By. Son Joshua Ramo. As Josh was a bit of an. Ass. We have been looking at individual children and we have been looking at childhood looking at its awkwardness its vulnerability its strange wisdom and its attempts to
meet the world around. Let us now look at childhood in a different setting. In the setting of society. Society which forms molds and shapes us from the moment we are born almost. The very beginning. It can become a prison in which ritual habit and custom. Destroy individuality. And the child becomes a pawn. In the game of his elders. Whatever step does what has happened. As we see Don Carlos to the throne of Spain son of Philip the fourth of Spain seen here at the age of 2 and the 16 31. Do you see the way he is born stiffly up. Stiffly by his wrists as stiffly as the conventions that surround. You know the conventions of the Spanish court were very great when this boy's father married again. The marriage between John and Bill. And the conventions of her record are very different from those of
Spain. So that. We have the mistress of the robes telling the young queen that she mustn't really live out in public like that because it was very bad form and Spanish royalty didn't do you know the artificial thing of the whole set up. I must emphasize remoteness difference you mustn't show any emotion in it. But here this little boy stares out in solemn bewilderment surrounded at this early age by the sash of the commander. The Borgia to the parlor the steel collar. The little hand on the sword. And then. The hand carrying also the one offs. His hands are full even at this early stage. And. This heavy embroidered row as we go upward above it all the face when I look at that little face I always think in a few lines by water dillema he said. Let small groups stranger than the sea in a fix more last year and wiser far. Than them you see. Do you remember the two crystallized eyes of the
men wobbly but here we have two dark eyes another pale face but 30 different there's something pathetic about this. This infant spread out like a little insect like a fly an ember against the end of the Spanish court. We can follow him in a number of pictures that Alaskans paid to doubt him. And the young prince and I was very fond of Velasquez. But the pictures get fewer around the age of 10 and this young prince died. Young from. The age of 17 and his face has his bald and mother's beauty as he got the Hapsburg jaw. Of his father. The movements of noses they have spurts of joy. And then within. Is the war. Like a dog following his outstretched arm and no court in the world perhaps at a greater number of imbeciles idiots dwarfs monstrosities in river IAG of the formed and happy human time. As head this court. Space. They were well treated and some of them even became great favorites. Usually they're
described as being mentally deficient as well as physically so mentally detained in childhood. Elizabeth billions of these things. But this to war has a sensitivity about his face if you look at it very closely as a sort of sensitivity that speaks of intelligence and possibly she's the victim rather of a disease called a country place here perhaps. Which leaves the body stunted with the mind. And if so it certainly gives great force to this here. And the wonderful thing about it is do you see the way the wonderfully impersonal eye of his which allows its dignity to every living creature has recorded faithfully and without any distortion or bias. The the small perform scrap of humanity that you see here. And the print is master. He allows them both their full dignity as human beings. He makes no comment years away has been asked at the dissolving miraculously away. From between
us and our prayers and leading us marvelously face to face. This pope Robert Frost calls a standoff standoff. You make. No comment. I wonder what for us thought about this custom of. Having deformed unhappy children. As playthings for their oil masters. But he doesn't so he makes no comment. Here as a woman who does make a comment whose whole work is more than a comment. It's an agonized cry against all injustices against all senselessness against war and all unnecessary suffering. Chaotic covets lived through two wars. She lost a son and one she lost a grandson and another. And she never became bitter and the more angry and at the same time more understanding so that or her anger was always being siphoned off as a threat and comments like this one. Every man's death. Diminished but at the same time. In a strange
way. Also. Increased. And look at this. Look at it here. And the idea of the young mother as blank and staring and shocked as that of an animal stunned by disaster. The child clutching to the only stable thing in his universe. Now. This is a wood cut. In which will go out a block of wood and a pin from the block. And see how this technique suits to the cutting edge of the night suit mood and and it matches the cutting edge of a motion. And the whole thing adds up with a tremendous impact like something glimpsed. On the end of a long day's march. Through a broken country. You know the child as is now the complete victim. Not in a society which constricts birth. But in a world which has become a jungle and in which by the natural law of the jungle he is defenseless
and must. Stuff. Let us. Turn over this coin of war. To peace. And come to the successor. Of the royal portrait that we saw a moment ago. In modern society. And let us turn to perhaps fittingly to an artist who made Boston his own. John Singer Sargent. For Europe paints the boy children. Their father was a friend of. Sergeants by the way. And. He was a water colorist as well. And. This this picture has it has a connection with the Velasquez that we saw a moment ago because Sargent was heavily influenced. By Philistine. And you see how that influence appears here and it appears in the spacing of the figures. But as to the large pool of shadow on the right. And in the way the light is used to pick out the details of what Sergeant wants us to see.
And the color is very marvelous to this huge picture this by the way. It's big enough for one more and and the color is sort of a rich brown wonderful silver which is the one color we think of when we think of the last year and which is the one color that. Has. One of the main functions in this particular picture here. Colors really fascinate one of Time's colors alone that abstract come fast for instance as we see it. I remember seeing it once and it really shocked me in the row of six the gray and the red. It was something the purest form in some strange way. Well Sergeant had a real feeling for childhood and see how he puts the show to show I want to get into the background when with her face in shadow as if she were afraid of the light. And look at the little girl spotlighted standing stiffly then the friend lifted. Self-consciously. And she's all alone isolated from the others. And look how she
stands with grace of childhood. Just so effective as if she hadn't fully got control of her body yet and look at the legs the two black stockinged legs which again have this slight and awkwardness. Like this dancer. Who stands with the same angularity and now you could tell all the ladies and all the limbs like a young coach who was becoming aware of her body. Exploding at. The world of the body within the larger world around a world within a world as Gabriel Marcel has pulled. This is really the ugly duckling. You know the child has to learn to use a body. To coordinate muscles to develop the skills to survive as an Independent in the world. Has been.
And as we said at the start. Childhood is a season. Like all seasons of the child becomes almost almost a woman. And then. And in this new springtime of growth. A young man. To. Another story. Thanks. Thank you. Thank you.
Invitation to Art
Episode Number
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
Direct from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This series explores man and the world around him through the eyes of artists, past and present, and aims to develop an understanding of art as a direct expression of universal emotions. As the host, Dr. Brian O'Doherty, young Irish poet, painter and art critic, brings a fresh, witty and warmly human point of view to the visual arts. Dr. Brian O'Doherty, a native of Ireland, was a Fellow for Research in Education at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Formerly, he was art critic, reviewer for the Dublin Magazine and lecturer at the National Gallery of Ireland. In this episode, O'Doherty showcases art housed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston that focuses on children and childhood. Art featured includes paintings by Andre Derain, Thomas Sully, Winslow Homer, Pierre-Auguste Renoir & John Singleton Copley. (Description from WGBH's Open Vault)
Episode Description
The world of childhood is contrasted as it is to the child and as it seems to the adult. Dr. O'Doherty discusses the vulnerability of the child from the point of view of psychology as he adjusts to what William James called "the blooming, buzzing confusion" of the world. He closes the program by bringing the child to adolescence. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
Series Description
This series explores man and the world around him through the eyes of artists, past and present, and aims to develop an understanding of art as a direct expression of universal emotions. As the host, Dr. Brian O'Doherty, young Irish poet, painter, and art critic, brings a fresh, witty and warmly human point of view to the visual arts. In the first season (episodes 1 - 15), O'Doherty follows, through these arts, the cycle of man from childhood to old age and explores the society in which man lives in all its aspects - tragic, comic, and mundane. Dr. O'Doherty uses works of art now on display in the galleries of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, to illustrate the episodes. Patricia Barnard of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts supervises production. Her assistant is Thalia Kennedy of the Museum staff. In the second season (episodes 16 - 30), each episode either examines in detail the work and thought of one of the great artists of the past, or consists of skillful and sympathetic interviews by Dr. O'Doherty of distinguished living artists who have had a powerful influence upon the art of today. In the third season (episode 31 - 34), Dr. O'Doherty interviews a distinguished American artist who have had a powerful influence upon the art of today. In the fourth season (episodes 35 - 41), a pattern of ideas evolves, revealing the various roles of the artist. This series was originally record in black and white on kinescope. (Description adapted from documents in the NET Microfiche)
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Fine Arts
Renoir, Auguste, 1841-1919; Copley, John Singleton, 1738-1815; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art & Arts; painting; childhood; etching; Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872; Derain, Andre, 1880-1954; O'Doherty, Brian; Homer, Winslow, 1836-1910
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Host: O'Doherty, Brian
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Publisher: Presented by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the WGBH Educational Foundation
Writer: O'Doherty, Brian
Writer: Vento, Frank
Writer: Noble, Paul
Writer: Kennedy, Thalia
Writer: Barnard, Patricia
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 965bf3b0d52b9af8e6ab396fc24df4deb4e23592 (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: video/quicktime
Color: B&W
Duration: 00:00:00
Library of Congress
Identifier: 2411651-1 (MAVIS Item ID)
Format: 16mm film
Generation: Master
Color: B&W
Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive
Identifier: [request film based on title] (Indiana University)
Format: 16mm film
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Chicago: “Invitation to Art; 1; Childhood,” 1960-06-23, WGBH, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 19, 2024,
MLA: “Invitation to Art; 1; Childhood.” 1960-06-23. WGBH, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 19, 2024. <>.
APA: Invitation to Art; 1; Childhood. Boston, MA: WGBH, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from