By Francesca Lungarotti
The feeling of returning to a place where the only thing that matters is pure love is something that images depicting maternal love and devotion in art have always evoked. Maternal love has always represented a source of artistic inspiration across all eras, cultures, and artistic mediums.
While appreciating selections of maternal art, all other distractions fade into the background, leaving the viewer focusing their gaze and heart solely on the strength and sweetness that binds the figures of mothers with their daughters and sons.
While Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days worldwide, May is the month most associated with the celebration of mothers. There are many historical factors that have contributed to this association. In ancient Greece and Rome, the month of May was dedicated to pagan divinities linked to fertility and spring (Artemis and Flora, respectively). Combined with other European rituals commemorating the new spring season, this has led many cultures to view May as the month of life and motherhood. This selection of religious and secular artistic content from the UIG collection brings our minds back to the special place where it all begins: the maternal embrace.
Sleepy Baby, 1910. Cassatt, Mary. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Mother and Child Embrace, Cassatt, Mary, 1897. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Egon Schiele (Tulln, 1890-Vienna, 1918). Austrian Expressionist painter. Mother and Daughter, 1913. Pencil and gouache on paper. Leopold Museum. Vienna, Austria. Photo: PHAS/UIG Workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder (16th century). The Virgin and Child, ca.1517. National Gallery, Oslo, Norway. Photo: PHAS/UIG Strutting Pigeon, Wife of White Cloud, 1844. Catlin, George. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Mother and Child Embrace, Mary Cassatt. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Sleep (sleeping woman and child) 1872 (oil on canvas 1,70 x 1,95), Lecadre Alphonse ( 1842-1875 ), Musee Des Beaux Arts in Nantes, France. Photo: ChristophelArt/UIG Portrait of Mme. Boursier and her Daughter – Morisot, Berthe. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Virgin, Child Reading – Raphael, Raffaello S. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Peasant Mother and Child, Bouguereau, Adolphe-William, 1887. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Madonna Holding Child, Bouguereau, Adolphe-William, 1903. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Mother and Child, Cassatt, Mary, 1889. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG The young mother in 1863, Hamon Jean Louis ( 1821 – 1874 ), Musee Des Beaux Arts in Nantes, France. Photo: ChristophelArt/UIG Mother, Child and Mirror, Cassatt, Mary, 1905. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG The Child’s Caress, Cassatt, Mary, 1891. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Mother and child, Albert Neuhuys, c. 1880 – c. 1899 Photo: Sepia Times/UIG Denis Maurice ( 1870 – 1943 ) Maternity with lace mancets 1895 (oil on cardboard 0.34 x 0.42) (portrait of Marthe Denis and her son) Museum of Fine Arts of Rennes. Photo: ChristophelArt/UIG Gerard Francois ( 1770-1837 ) Full-length portrait of Hortense de Beauharnais; Queen of Holland (1783 – 1837) and his son Napoleon Charles (oil on canvas 0; 32 x 0; 24) 1807 Castles of Versailles and Trianon. Photo: ChristophelArt/UIG Mother and Child – Rembrandt, Harmensz van Rijn. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Iran: ‘A Nestorian mother and her little girl’, sketch and watercolour by Justin Perkins, Urmia (1839) Photo: Pictures From History/UIG A Mother with her Child, Louis Bernard Coclers, 1794 Photo: Sepia Times/UIG Maurice Denis: Mother and Child, Maurice Denis, circa 1895, Oil on canvas. Photo: Sepia Times/UIG Japan: Mother carrying child. Utamaro Kitagawa (1753-1806) Photo: Pictures From History/UIG Painting, Emile Munier (1840-1895) French school Maternal affection Affection maternelle Private collection. Photo: Photo12/UIG Mrs. Marinus Willett and Her Son Marinus, Jr. John Vanderlyn (October 15, 1776 to September 23, 1852) was an American neo-classicist painter. Photo: Buyenlarge/UIG Japan: Mother and child with toy horse. Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770) Photo: Pictures From History/UIG The Vow. William-Adolphe Bouguereau (30 November 1825 to 19 August 1905) was a French academic painter. In his realistic genre paintings he used mythological themes, making modern interpretations of classical subjects, with an emphasis on the female human body. Photo: Buyenlarge/UIG Mother and Child’, 1900. Artist: Edouard Vuillard. Jean-Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) was a French painter, decorative artist and printmaker. He was a prominent member of the Nabis. Photo: World History Archive/UIG Virgin and Child with St Anne’, 1502-1516 Artist: Leonardo da Vinci. St Anne, the mother of the Virgin Mary, is not mentioned in the New Testament. Photo: World History Archive/UIG Art, Russian art, Boris Michajlovifc Kustodiev, 1878 – 1927, title of the work, Morning, 1904 oil on canvas, cm 108 x 126,5. Photo: Molteni&Motta/UIG The Virgin and Child’, c1511 Artist: Leonardo da Vinci. The design is based on two Leonardo paintings, the ‘Litta Madonna’ and the ‘Madonna of the Yarn-Winder’. Photo: World History Archive/UIG Esater greeting postcard printed in Russian Empire, 1919, shows mother hugging her daughter. Photo: Igor Golovniov/UIG Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1845 – 1926) Mother and Child. 1890s. Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. Reproduction of old postcards. Photo: Igor Golovniov/UIG The happy mother, c 1856-1907 – Currier & Ives Lithograph Photo: HUM Images/UIG Japan: ‘Midnight: The Hours of the Rat; Mother and Sleepy Child’. Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), c. 1790 Photo: Pictures from History/UIG Mother Plaits Her Small Daughter’s Hair – Krohg, Christian, 1883 Photo: PicturesNow/UIG The Cradle, 1872. Morisot, Berthe. Photo: PicturesNow/UIG Prat Loys ( 1879-1934 ) Madame Praat and her daughter in the garden Mayor of Donzere. Photo: ChristophelArt/UIG
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Aleteia; “Why is May called Mary’s Month?” by Philip Kosloski; May 2, 2018