In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share one of my favorite original posts. Famous Artists Paint Their Mothers are thirty-three portraits of the female forebears of various respected and well-known painters. The portraits range from the 15th century to the present* – excluding paintings of The Madonna, arguably the most famous of all mothers.
Famous Artists Paint Their Mothers
Most artists, at one time or another, have painted a portrait of the woman from whose womb they sprang. Some are flattering, some are not and others are very personal or intimate — yet all are an homage to the parent whose role we celebrate today, Sunday, May 13th.
There are so many, I’d originally broken this up into two posts, but today I am featuring all of them in one post – paintings of artists’ mothers prior to the 20th century by the likes of Whistler, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Picasso as well as more recent homages to Mom by such artists as Rockwell, Wood, Hopper, Dali, Hockney, and Warhol.
A good place to start would be with the world’s most well-known “Mother” artwork, that of by James McNeill Whistler, painted in 1871:
above: James McNeill Whistler, Whistler’s Mother 1871, Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Now see how other famous artists paint their mothers. The following portraits are presented in chronological order from the earliest to the most recent. While it’s true that many of these artists painted multiple sittings of their mothers (e.g. Lautrec, Cassat, and Cezanne), I chose to share those I found to be the most compelling.
Albrecht Durer, portrait of Barbara Durere, the artist’s mother, 1490:
Guido Reni, Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1612:
Rembrandt, Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1630:
Sir Thomas Lawrence, Portrait (sketch) of Lucy Lawrence, the Artist’s mother, 1797:
Alfred Rethel, portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1836:
Camille Corot, Madame Corot, the Artist’s Mother, Born Marie-Francoise Oberson, 1838:
Pierre Renoir, Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1860:
Paul Cezanne, Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1866-67:
Mary Cassat, the Artist’s Mother reading Le Figaro, 1878:
Edouard Manet, Mother in the garden at Bellevue, 1880:
Georges Seurat, Aquatint of the artist’s mother, 1883:
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Countess Adele Zoe de Toulouse Lautrec, The Artist’s Mother, 1883:
Vincent Van Gogh, Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, October, 1888:
Paul Gauguin, Portrait of Aline Gauguin (his mother), 1890:
Pablo Picasso, Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, 1896:
Edvard Much, The Dead Mother (the artist’s mother died when he was five from tuberculosis), 1899:
Franz Marc, portrait of his mother, 1902:
Georgio di Chirico, portrait of the artist’s mother, 1911:
Egon Shiele, Mother Sleeping, 1911:
Juan Gris, portrait of the artist’s mother, 1912:
Edward Hopper, Elizabeth Griffiths Smith Hopper, the artist’s mother, 1916:
Salvador Dali, portrait of the artist’s mother, 1920:
Norman Rockwell’s Mother Tucking Children Into Bed (for which his mother Irene was the model), 1921:
Grant Wood, Woman With Plants (his mother), 1929:
Arshile Gorky, portrait of the artist’s mother, 1936:
William H. Johnson, Mom Alice, 1944:
Alice Neel, My Mother, 1952:
Lucian Freud, The Painter’s Mother, 1973:
Andy Warhol, silkscreen of his mother, Julia Warhola, 1974 :
David Hockney, Mum, 1985:
Daphne Todd, Last Portrait Of Mother, 2009:
David Kassan, portrait of the artist’s mother, 2010:
*You will note there are very few, if any, portraits artist’s mothers in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries because so much art at that time was dominated by religious paintings and portraits commissioned by the wealthy.