I am looking for art about motherhood for my blog.
Old but especially new, by mothers or not, with ties to Italy a bonus.
Mother as cow. This was Giovanni Segantini's take on it back in the late 19th century when Italy was a brand-new nation andmotherhood was a common theme in painting because of the idea of the "motherland".
I have thought of this painting many times since I've started breastfeeding.
Of course there's a lot more to it than that. This essay by Judy Meighan (whom I've had the distinct pleasure of TA'ing for), "In Praise of Motherhood: The Promise and Failure of Painting for Social Reform in Late-Nineteenth-Century Italy", is fascinating and a great intro to the subject in general. She uses this painting and Gaetano Previati's Maternità, both submitted for the same prestigious award, "to examine the complexity and difficulties of motherhood in the modern era":
Why was one maternal image admired and the other disparaged? We must not assume that images of motherhood in the second half of the nineteenth century shared a sentimental, uniform idea ... [This] was contested territory in a society that for hundreds of years had denied many women the right to be mothers.
Meighan is referring to the shockingly high levels of infant abandonment in the mid-19th century. She says that Milan had the highest rate in all of Europe.
[This] reality ... contradicts a popular, nostalgic mythology of old-fashioned motherhood as well as the idea of the Italian family as big, happy, and teeming with adored babies and children. It also shakes the foundation of another prevalent twentieth-century idea, that Italians have long followed a "religion" of mammismo in which grown children show unqualified adoration for their mother. Throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, la mamma had a very difficult time earning respect as well as legal and social support.
Such interesting and fertile ground for study that begs to be explored further.
Please tell me about any other mother art that I should check out by using the contact form below!