La Bassee, France, 1761- Paris, 1845.
Little Favorites, n.d.
Oil on canvas.
The gendered symmetry of the charming girls with small dogs and the boy with a hunting breed reinforces their respective future roles as doting mothers and a gentleman hunter. Boilly also creates a resemblance between the children and animals: they all have soft, silky manes and big eyes.
Anthrozoologists believe our human impulse to care for babies is linked to our attraction to small animals with large eyes and high vocal registers, two traits associated with cuteness. This biological impulse compels us to protect and care for our young and also informs our breeding of certain dogs, especially those in the Toy Group.