European art in the later nineteenth century was defined as much by new interpretations of subject matter as by experimentation with artistic styles and techniques. This is especially true of the way artists depicted women and children. By the last quarter of the century, the Academic nude female and the Realist peasant woman were types of the past. Their place was taken by the fashionably dressed, urban female who was represented as stylish, graceful, and beautiful. This “new woman,” as she was called, lived a life of leisure: she strolled on the beach, performed an operatic scene, rested with her child, or simply adopted a pose to make a striking impression. Similarly, artists no longer depicted children as small adults, but as playful, sometimes rebellious youngsters.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website