The Cradle, painted in 1872 by Berthe Morisot, was considered a modern, intimate portrait of the artist’s sister Edma. Yet its main protagonist is in fact the corporeal portrayal of infantile sleep, which represents the hallmark of modernity, indicating progressive medicinal knowledge and hygiene awareness. The growing consumerism of sleep—reflected through the baby’s cradle, beddings, and clothing—coincided with pediatricians’ guidelines that stressed maternal responsibility over babies’ sleeping routines. The combination of these economic and medical influences designated young mothers to perform as “sleeping agents” while making them accountable for the orderliness, duration, and quality of their babies’ sleep.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Israel Science Foundation;
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