Mothers and Their Children   bryan habony

A look at the different, and similar ways that mothers have been depicted with their children in art, throughout history and cultures.

In this painting, the mother and child are depicted very delicately. The use of light and shadow on the clothing as well as the skin of the mother and child make them look very soft and realistic. The halo-like objects around their heads are painted with very fine, precise detail, and add to the delicate feel of the scene. The child is gazing up at the mother and both appear to be happy and comfortable.
This painting by Japanese artist Shoen Uemura shows a woman holding her child. This is done in a simplistic style, with crisp lines and not much shading. Unlike many other paintings of mothers and children, the child's face is not visible here. Instead the baby is facing away, appearing to be squirming in her mother's arms. This gives the painting a dynamic feel without having to use a lot of bright colors or sweeping brush strokes.
A slight variation of the previous two compositions, this painting shows a mother giving her baby a kiss. The mother and child have basic forms and are depicted with little detail. This simple style really emphasizes the subject matter of the painting: a mother's love for her child, instead of the technical aspects of the painting itself.
In this example, the mother and child are painted with very realistic detail. The skin and clothing look soft and life-like. While the textures look very realistic, the expressions and proportions of the figures do not. Both mother and child have oddly expressionless faces and almost look confused. The proportions of the child seem odd as well, with the head looking very small.
In this painting, a mother and her child are shown walking together. The mother is leaning down, touching her child's head. The simplicity of the figures and the muted colors highlight the intimacy of the moment. Both mother and child are shown in very dynamic poses; there aren't many straight lines in this painting.
As you've seen in a previous example, simplicity can be a very effective way to highlight a point. About as simplistic as you can get, this painting strips the mother/child relationship down to a few sketchy lines. The loose mark of the artist causes the two figures to appear almost as one.
Unlike the previous paintings, nobody appears to be conscious here. The mother can be seen slumped next to her bed, her hand still on the cradle from rocking her baby to sleep. This scene provides a much more interesting composition than the traditional "mother holding her baby". The form of the mother cuts across the center of the painting, leading your eye from one corner to another.
Like the previous painting, this one also has an interesting composition. Instead of sitting, or sleeping, this painting shows playing. The mother and child are playing with animal toys on a table; the child mimicking the form of the mother. The most detail is in the faces of the figures and the painting becomes less detailed as your eyes move away from their faces with the toys seeming to blend into the table.
This photograph of a woman holding her baby in a tender embrace again uses simplicity to emphasize intimacy. The lack of color, the plain clothing, and the blank background all cause the viewer to focus on the intimate moment between a mother and her baby.
This painting is much more vibrant and formal than most of the others in this gallery. The bright colors, and beautifully silky-looking fabrics give this painting a very regal and formal feeling. Amidst this formality, the child appears to be distracted, playfully reaching for something in the distance. This gives the painting some contextual realism to go along with the incredible realism of the faces and textures.
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