Benjamin West
The Golden Age 1776

Artwork details

Benjamin West 1738–1820
The Golden Age
Date 1776
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 654 x 765 mm
frame: 891 x 1022 x 100 mm
Acquisition Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery and the Art Fund 1967
Not on display

Display caption

Although the young mother seems to be modelled on the artist's wife, this is not a West family portrait, but an allegorical scene. The Golden Age of the title, given in an engraving of the picture published in 1778, is the state of Infancy. The peacefully sleeping child knows nothing of the worries and poverty of its mother, indicated by the ragged hem of her dress and bare feet, or of the hard labour of the father, seen in the distance ploughing with a team of oxen. Neither is it aware of the cares and feebleness of old age, represented by the grandparents trying to catch the warmth of the sun in the doorway.

August 2004

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