A perennial theme in art across nations, centuries and cultures. Here are two un-showy and relatively simple images. They both repay a bit of study: below are my thoughts.
In the van Dyck painting, I was taken by the child’s cheeky and communicative expression and the way in which, whilst the mother has a calm, almost set expression, her hand curls protectively around that of her child – such a pose also has the benefit of keeping a lively child still. Some of these works of art – even of long-dead people by long-dead artists- give more to the viewer than the finest photograph.
Jan van Dyck: Marie Clarisse, Wife of Jan Woverius, with Their Child
In the Corot painting below, the mother is solicitous with a kind of controlled strength towards her very well-protected child. From the way in which she helps the child with one hand whilst her other hand supports her child’s back, it seems as if she is both caring for the child and moving the child towards independence. This book calls the child: “like a self-contained independent little monument”. That exactly sums up this solemn and vulnerable figure.
Camille Corot: Mother and Child on the Beach