fbpx
Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Painting of the Week: Paula Modersohn Becker, Reclining Mother and Child II

Paula Modersohn Becker Mother and Child
Paula Modersohn Becker, Reclining Mother and Child II, 1906, Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany. Wikimedia Commons

Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week: Paula Modersohn Becker, Reclining Mother and Child II

Does any image say primal love more than this powerful painting by Paula Modersohn Becker? As we head into International Children’s Day, it seems right to make Painting of the Week one that includes not just children but which beautifully portrays the love that adults, parents and carers bestow on the young and vulnerable of our species.

Paula Modersohn Becker Mother and Child
Paula Modersohn Becker, Reclining Mother and Child II, 1906, Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, Image wikicommons

It is said that children require love above all things. And that is what we see in the image above, Paula Modersohn Becker’s Mother And Child Reclining.

Mother and child face each other, completely oblivious to us, the viewer. This is no traditional reclining nude, staged to titillate the male gaze. This is woman’s sensuality and animal-like love for her offspring – primal and potent.

The monumental life-size figure curls around her child, offering sustenance and warmth. There is protection here, in the drawn-up legs of the mother. There is tenderness in the gentle cradling of the head.

There is nothing here to signify time or place. The mother and child are unclothed, there is no backdrop, no hairstyle to tell us who or what she is – the world is shrunk to their circle of intimacy. They could be ancients in a cave, they could be the new mother next door.

child paula modersohn becker
Paula Modersohn Becker, Girl With Child, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Netherlands. Wikimedia Commons

Modersohn Becker often painted children, partly because they were easily accessible in the family homes around her studio. They were real, unsentimental. She was born in Germany and was one of the most important members of the early Expressionist movement, although she sold only three paintings in her lifetime. She was the first female painter to experiment with nude self-portraits.

Just after finishing Mother and Child Reclining in 1906 Moderson Becker wrote to her sister “I am becoming something – I am living the most intensely happy period of my life.” Sadly, she was to die just a year later.

Modersohn Becker had given birth to a daughter on 2nd November 1907. She was prescribed total bed rest for two weeks, something often imposed on new mothers in that age, but now known to be risky. On rising, she suffered a fatal embolism.

Momentarily she had held both of her passions – her art and her child. She was thriving and passionate. Baby Mathilde was just 18 days old when her mother died suddenly, and without warning, on 20th November 1907. Modersohn Becker’s last words were “What a pity.”

Paula Modersohn Becker Mother and Child

In these days when we read of poverty, neglect, child slavery and child prostitution, let us remember that each of us has something to offer to the children of the world. You don’t need to be a parent to know that we owe food and shelter, security and safety, education and good health to all the children on our planet. And, of course, love.

For International Children’s Day see also famous painters and their children!

Candy’s remote, rain soaked farmhouse clings to a steep-sided valley in rural Wales. She raises cats, chickens and children with varying degrees of success. Art, literature and Lakrids licorice save her sanity on a daily basis.

Comments

More in Painting of the Week

  • 20th century

    The Hidden Meanings of Nature in Čiurlionis’ Paintings

    By

    What’s nature like outside your window today? Is it calm and relaxing, or maybe there’s a frightening storm swaying the trees? Perhaps you are sitting in a cozy chair as the tree branches tap your window, tapping as if they were human… Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911)...

  • Lower Pecos rock art cover Lower Pecos rock art cover

    Ancient

    Lower Pecos Rock Art: Prehistoric Painting in North America

    By

    On the Texas-Mexico border, there are treasures of prehistoric art: hundreds of painted caves and rock shelters dating as early as 2000 BCE. Filled with multicolored animals, symbols, and humanoid figures, Lower Pecos rock art gives a taste of prehistoric North American belief and ritual. Scholars...

  • 19th Century

    Alphonse Mucha: Art Nouveau Visionary at North Carolina Museum of Art

    By

    Czech-born Alphonse Mucha was one of the most celebrated artists in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. As an influential force behind the Art Nouveau movement, he created sumptuous posters and advertising—promoting such everyday products as cigarette papers and tea biscuits—that transformed the streets...

  • 19th Century

    Gustav Klimt’s Lost and Found Viennese Beauty – Lady with Fan

    By

    Fräuleins (Ladies), step aside! This steaming-hot brunette is back in town! After 100 years of captivity, away from the Viennese public, you can now find her at the Upper Belvedere, showing off her superb skin. Meet one of Gustav Klimt’s last ever subjects: Lady With Fan....

  • CHEAP Street Poster Art, RECLAIM CHEAP Street Poster Art, RECLAIM

    21st century

    CHEAP: When Art Meets Activism – Interview with the Co-founder Sara Manfredi

    By

    “Art” and “activism” surely are not enough words to describe what CHEAP is. CHEAP is an innovative Italian street poster art project and association born in Bologna’s streets and public spaces. It uses art to fight against sexism, racism, classism, and any form of oppression rooted...

To Top