Figure 1.--This Belgian boy was named Jean D. He was born in 1913. Jean looks to have been a rather happy boy. Here he looks to be about 10 years old in his portrait which was taken about 1923. Sailor suits were the oufits preferred by his mother and most were styled very traditionally.
Unfortunately we have no written information about this boy, other than his mame is Jean D. and he was born in 1913. We do have, however, several different portaits his parents had taken. The portraits show how Jean was dressed from a toddler to a young teenager. We suspect that he was a only child as old of the portraits are only of Jean by himself. While the portraits are undated, we can guess when they were taken as we know that he wa born in 1913. One thing is for sure, the oufits his mother peferred were sailor suits. He certainly seems to have been a happy boy.
His name of course suggests that he came from the French speaking community in Belgium. But this is not nececarily the case. Since the foundation of modern Belgium in 1830, French became the official language of the country, also in Flanders. Nearly all new-borns were
registered with French first names. Since it was customary to traditionally name the children after their grand-parents, Flemish people were given French names for generations, even if they would have preferred a Dutch name for their sons and daughters. It
simply was done out of respect for their parents and grand-parents, not because they had any French sympathies. This only changed after World War I when the Flemish achieved linguistic equality. At the time this boy was born, 1913, it was still common in Flemish families to give their children French names. The majority of Flemish Belgians used to have names like Marcel, Jacques, and Louis. That changed after World War I when the Flemings became more and more aware of their own culture and self-esteem and started giving their children Dutch names. Now the names are often changing again. Many Belgian boys are being christened with English and Irish names: Patrick, Kevin or Scott, not only Flemish children, but French-speaking Walloons as well. I am not sure precisely what has caused this.
Jean looks to be about 6 years old in a portrait taken about 1919. It looks to be idential to the one he wore in other portraits taken in 1921-23. The only significant difference we note is that the stripe on the collar were little thicker. Interestinglky, the the boy is tied precisely the same.
This is the only imagethat is definitively dated. Jean was 8 year old and he was phoyographed in 1921. Jean wears a very traditional short pants sailor suit with three-quarter length dark socks and high-top shoes.
Jean looks to be about 10 years old in his portrait which was taken about 1923 (figure 1). Sailor suits were the oufits preferred by his mother and most were styled very traditionally. It looks to be idential to the one he wore in 1921. Notice the chain and pocket. Presumably a bras hitle was on te chain.
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