It was not earlier than in the age of Romanticism that the peculiarity of childhood was recognised by the artists. On the XVIII century portraits children look very much like "little adults". These children are either playing the roles of the grown-ups or artificially converted into adults. Such an approach was inherited by provincial painters from the academic art and had been preserved throughout the XIX century.
The main goal of the adults' portraiture was to represent a sitter; it often became the clue of the image; whereas in the children's portraits there could be some amazing examples of mixture of lyrical and representative features.
There was a noticeable trick used by provincial painters to make sure that a sitter was a child. The artist slightly changes the balance between the size of a figure and free background. The figure is a little bit small to fit in surrounding space, it seems like it's drifting in the space. Splendour of the image is lost; it is somewhat "de-monumentalised".