Images of Older People in Western Art and Society

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How older people have been perceived during various periods of history from the Middle Ages to the 19th century is the focus of this heavily illustrated study of the elderly in Western society. Herbert Covey presents the reader with a wide range of portrayals of the elderly in both art and literature and goes on to analyze, in detail, the images and symbols of aging, sexuality, family, and death found in these depictions. His analyses of the works reflect a variety of disciplines, including fine arts, gerontology, history, sociology, psychology, and literature. This book increases our consciousness of images of older people in Western culture by debunking common images and providing background information on how current images and perceptions have developed.

Images of Older People in Western Art and Society illustrates how society has both defined and portrayed advanced age in Western painting, drawing, literature, and drama. First, images of aging are presented. Then, recognizable symbols that have been used throughout history as metaphors for characteristics of aging are shown. Because the elderly are often closely involved with family, one chapter is devoted to images of the elderly within the family structure. Current art often shows the elderly as sexless, but that wasn't always so. Today, death is frequently associated with old age, although throughout history, death has been associated with all ages. Social historians, gerontological practitioners, and sociologists will find a great deal to study in this visual history. The book is illustrated with 41 black-and-white reproductions of paintings and drawings.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275934354
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/30/1991
  • Pages: 214
  • Lexile: 1180L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

HERBERT C. COVEY is a postdoctoral fellow at the Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Colorado-Boulder.

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Table of Contents


Art and Older People: An Introduction

The Ages of Life

Symbolic Images of Older People

Images of Older People and the Family

Older People and Sexual Images

Images of Older People and Death




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