Mother: Portraits by 40 Great Artists

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More About This Textbook


Artists paint their mothers for many reasons — as a loving tribute, of course, but also to capture a memorable face, to work through conflicting emotions, as a family legacy, or the simple availability of a model. Looking at each work and considering its individual history reveals much about the relationship, the artist, and about the time and place in which it was created. Mother collects more than 40 of these fascinating portraits. Selected by art historian Juliet Heslewood, the portraits are displayed chronologically, and the changing nature of the subject can be seen as time progresses over the centuries to the present day. Text accompanying each portrait provides compelling background information about the artist and his or her mother, the mother's impact on the artist’s career, and the artist’s painting style. Among the painters represented are Rembrandt, Rossetti, Van Gogh, Sargent, Picasso, Kahlo, and Hockney.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780711229655
  • Publisher: Lincoln, Frances Limited
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Juliet Heslewood studied the History of Art at London University and later gained an MA in English Literature at Toulouse. For over twenty-five years she lived in France where she devised and led study tours on art and architecture. Her books include The History of Western Painting for young people which was translated into twelve languages. She also wrote its companion on sculpture and Introducing Picasso. Juliet lives in Oxfordshire.
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  • Posted April 29, 2009

    artists from all eras depict their mothers

    With its smaller size, color illustrated covers, and front and back cover lettering of indented silvered letters, it's as much gift book as art book. The subject matter too makes for the gift book style--suggestive of sentimentality and aiming for wide appeal.

    Forty paintings of mothers by mostly major, commonly-known artists from Durer to Tom Phillips (b. 1937) are featured chronologically. Rembrandt, Manet, Sargent, Van Gogh, Chagall, Henry Moore, and Lucien Freud are among the artists; with Guido Reni, Hyacinthe Rigaud, and Axel Gallen-Kallela among the lesser-knowns rounding out the forty. The paintings are within the style of realism. No cubist fragmentations, fauvist flights of imagination, or surrealist symbolizations. Only Leger contorts somewhat. You'd recognize the mothers in the paintings. As Heslewood points out, "[I]f an artist didn't really get on with their mother, they simply didn't paint her." Even Picasso and Frida Kahlo suspended their characteristic styles when depicting their mothers in favor of naturalness.

    Heslewood's commentary on the paintings variously covers what is known about the respective mother (not much in many cases), the career of the artist, and style and historical elements in the painting. Though artists did not subject their mothers to much stylistic distortion in any era, as Heslewood points out in the Introduction, they did use paintings of their mothers as opportunities to portray clothing, human features, and flesh. In some cases, the artist wanted to commemorate his mother's hard life (as a peasant, for instance) or idealize her a bit by picturing her in better clothes than she had.

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