Collection: National Museum of the Middle Ages © RMN-Grand Palais / Franck Raux

Toy: lead and tin horseman, 14th century / Section of a triptych: Presentation in the Temple, detail: child playing on a wooden horse, painting, third quarter of 15th century

Extensively depicted in illuminations and found in many collections in Europe, toys marked social differentiation from childhood: toy lead soldiers for the upper classes and terra cotta toys for the less fortunate. The toy horse was present across all social strata. Given its manufacturing technique of melting lead and tin, the horseman at the National Museum of the Middle Ages was likely intended for children of wealthy parents. However, the wood horse -made with a stick at the end of which a head was fitted- could belong to both a child in a wealthy family (which seems to be the case in this painting) or a poor child. It should be noted, however, that while the production material and quality marked social class differences, in most depictions, boys alone played with the horse.