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In honor of Mother's Day this coming Sunday, I thought I'd share with you several portraits of the female forebearers of various respected and well-known painters. The portraits range from the 15th century to the present* - excluding paintings of The Madonna, arguably the most famous of all mothers.
Most artists, at one time or another, have painted a portrait of the woman from whose womb they sprang. Some are flattering, some are not and others are very personal or intimate -- yet all are an homage to the parent whose role we celebrate this Sunday, May 8th.
There are so many, I'm breaking this up into two posts. Today I am featuring paintings of artists' mothers prior to the 20th century and tomorrow I will be featuring Part Two, more recent homages to Mom by such artists as Hopper, Dali, Hockney, and Warhol.
A good place to start would be with the world's most well-known "Mother" artwork, that of by James McNeill Whistler, painted in 1871:
above: James McNeill Whistler, Whistler's Mother 1871, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
The following portraits are presented in chronological order from the earliest to the most recent. While it's true that many of these artists painted multiple sittings of their mothers (e.g. Lautrec, Cassat, and Cezanne), I chose to share those I found to be the most compelling.
Albrecht Durer, portrait of Barbara Durere, the artist's mother, 1490:
Guido Reni, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1612:
Rembrandt, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1630:
Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait (sketch) of Lucy Lawrence, the Artist's mother, 1797:
Alfred Rethel, portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1836:
Camille Corot, Madame Corot, the Artist's Mother, Born Marie-Francoise Oberson, 1838:
Pierre Renoir, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1860:
Paul Cezanne, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1866-67:
Mary Cassat, the Artist's Mother reading Le Figaro, 1878:
Edouard Manet, Mother in the garden at Bellevue, 1880:
Georges Seurat, Aquatint of the artist's mother, 1883:
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Countess Adele Zoe de Toulouse Lautrec, The Artist's Mother, 1883:
Vincent Van Gogh, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, October, 1888:
Paul Gauguin, Portrait of Aline Gauguin, 1890:
Pablo Picasso, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1896:
Edvard Much, The Dead Mother (the artist's mother died when he was five from tuberculosis), 1899:
*You will note there are very few, if any, portraits artist's mothers in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries because so much art at that time was dominated by religious paintings and portraits commissioned by the wealthy.
Be sure to see Part Two, 20th and 21st century artists like Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and David Hockney's portraits of their mothers.