A “foundling” is the term ascribed to a child who had been orphaned and/or exposed to disease, abandoned by his/her parent(s) for the public to find and save. Foundling “hospitals” cropped up all over Western Europe during the 17th century, most notably in Paris and London.
For this week’s installment of French Friday, I would like to honor the French Foundlings from the past several centuries, some of whom were beautifully introduced to the public via an exhibition at the Musée Flaubert et d’histoire de la médecine in Rouen, France, from January to June 2008. This exhibition, titled “Les enfants du secret: Enfants trouvés du XVIIe siècle à nos jours,” featured intricate and intimate tokens left for the children by the parents who had abandoned them at one of the several French Foundling Hospitals.
Though the Foundling Hospital of London was demolished in 1926, the Foundling Museum of London was erected in 1937 on an adjacent site. The Foundling Museum of London marked London’s first public art gallery, and it has become highly regarded for its art collections and regular exhibitions, its chilrden’s programs, and its museum shop and café. For information about one of its exhibitions, click HERE.
Thanks to Le Divan Fumoir Bohémien for introducing me to the Foundlings.