Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Art History


Patricia Mainardi

Subject Categories

American Studies | Art Education | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology


In November 1873, St. Nicholas Magazine: Scribner's Illustrated Magazine for Girls and Boys made its publishing debut. While it was intended to be a literary magazine, visual imagery was an important component of the monthly. Illustrations and reproductions of fine art and architecture from Antiquity, the Old Masters, and contemporary academic artists illustrated fictional serials, accompanied art historical information, and stood alone as art work for the reader to visually consider. Innovative page layouts took their inspiration from the aesthetic theories and art styles popular among those associated with the American genteel tradition. By choosing certain styles for illustration and page layouts, and by choosing to feature certain stylistic periods in the history of art, the editors of St. Nicholas attempted to train its readers in the acceptable taste associated with high culture, provide morally uplifting art that would inspire a proper Victorian American life, and train the upper and middle classes to become visual consumers.

I argue that St. Nicholas should be considered an art magazine specifically designed for the aesthetic training and art education of children, taking its place within the art and aesthetic education movement of the late nineteenth-century. The art and aesthetic program was a complicated and premeditated agenda for the cultural education and visual training of America's future citizens. By supplying children with reproductions of fine art, art historical essays, and illustrations and page layouts that parallel the styles and types of fashionable art, St. Nicholas provided children with the foundations of art education.