Painting

Cute Babies in Art: From Rubens to Cassatt

Rachel Witte 13 November 2022 min Read

Who doesn’t like a cute baby? Lucky for us, history is full of cute babies in art. And while we could dedicate one whole article to babies in Mary Cassatt’s paintings alone, there happen to be more artists who excelled in this genre. But where would we be if we forgot to mention the stranger artworks out there as well? We cannot forget those. Just search “cute babies in art” and you will be met with some fascinating or possibly disturbing images.

Cute Babies in Art

1. Mary Cassatt

As an Impressionist female artist in the late 19th century, Mary Cassatt’s oeuvre focuses heavily on the female presence in the world as a mother, daughter, etc. If you were to look deeper into her portfolio, the theme is much the same throughout. Her depictions are some of the cutest of all the babies in art history. For example, look at these two paintings; they are intimate in feeling and feature two precious babies.

Maternal Kiss Mary Cassat

Mary Cassatt, Sleepy Baby, c. 1910, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, USA.
Mary Cassatt, Sleepy Baby, c. 1910, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, USA.

2. Vincent van Gogh

These Vincent van Gogh’s paintings are bright and vibrant; indicative of Van Gogh’s later style and color palette. While the artist painted many other paintings for the Roulin family, these next two are particularly focused on the infant, Marcelle. Look at those chubby cheeks!

Madame Roulin and her baby, vincent van gogh

Portrait of Marcelle Roulin, Vincent van Gogh

3. Gari Melchers

Perhaps lesser known than his American counterpart, Mary Cassatt, Gari Melchers also painted women and children. According to the Art Institute of Chicago, Melchers specialized in naturalistic depictions of peasant life.

Melchers Mother and Child

Melchers, Motherhood

4. William-Adolphe Bouguereau

A large portion of the French artist’s oeuvre is focused on the female body. Museum of Fine Arts Houston labels William-Adolphe Bouguereau as the “quintessential successful academic painter.” Throughout his realistic paintings, there are numerous children and babies. For instance, the below painting is of a young girl cradling her younger sibling. He had his own children model for the very clear and hyper-realistic portrait.

Bouguereau, Elder Sister

Again, Bouguereau’s painting of Madonna and Child hearkens back to the Renaissance style, but with a stronger approach to realism.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Madonna of the Lillies, 1899, private collection. Wikimedia Commons.

5. Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens is known for his religious and mythological paintings of portraits and landscapes. Below are both a sketch of his own son, Nicolas, and a painting of two curly-haired babies in bed believed to be his elder brothers.

babies in art, Rubens

babies in art

6. Cornelis van Cleve

While not all of Cornelis van Cleve‘s paintings of the baby Jesus could be defined as “cute” in nature, this one fits the description. It is a bit more realistic than what other Renaissance artists were utilizing at around the same time and area of Europe.

babies in art, Madonna and Child

Bonus: Not That Cute Babies in Art

Opinions differ on whether all babies are cute, however that is not the argument here. But if you want to see artworks depicting babies in a downright strange manner, look no further.

What exactly is happening here? Poor child!

Rembrandt, baby being taken

Is this mother giving birth to a newborn infant or an adult?

Medieval Cesarean strange

Is this a man or a baby?

Heemskerck, Flight into Egypt

More Information:

Why babies in medieval paintings look like ugly old men. Posted by Vox via Youtube, 127 Jul 2015.

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