Although Elizabeth Nourse lived in France for her entire professional life, she remains one of Cincinnati’s most cherished artists. Nourse honed her abilities at Cincinnati’s McMicken School of Design and the Académie Julian in Paris, preparing her for a career marked by international accolades. In 1888 she submitted ""La Mère"" to the jury of the Salon, the prestigious annual exhibition of contemporary art in Paris. The work, Nourse's first submission to the Salon, was not only accepted but was hung “on the line,” the location reserved for the most highly esteemed pictures. Many such honors followed, culminating with the purchase of one of her paintings by the French government in 1910.
Nourse’s paintings responded to a longing for simplicity in the face of widespread industrialization. This image of a lower-class woman, her face in shadow, who has just finished nursing her baby, suggests absolute peace and quietude. The picture’s success is also predicated on the appealing combinations of lavenders, mauves, and blues.