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25 Breathtaking Odes to Breastfeeding Through the Centuries

Did you know that breastfeeding portraits were a “thing”? Yeah, neither did I. But breastfeeding has been the subject of many paintings for hundreds of years.

These images of mothers nursing their children are forever captured in paint strokes and pen marks and now the paintings hang in castles, parlors and on museum walls all over the world — from India to Germany and to France. Some of these portraits are intimate studies of a beautiful moment between mother and child, while others are more formal family portraits for the royals and the very rich.

Check out these 25 totally breathtaking and fascinating, artistic odes to breastfeeding throughout the centuries right here:

  • Breastfeeding Portraits 1 of 26
    breastfeedingw
  • The First Family 2 of 26
    773px-Cornelis_van_Haarlem_-_De_eerste_familie

    This painting, entitled The First Family, was created in 1864 by Cornelis van Haarlem, a Dutch Golden Age artist. Interestingly, the entire family is nude in it — you don't see that everyday!

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • French Family 3 of 26
    768px-Gabriel_Joseph_de_Froment,_Baron_de_Castille_(1747_-_1826)_with_family,_French_School,_19th_Century-1

    This is a gorgeous painting by an unknown artist of French School circa 1825. It is of Gabriel Joseph de Froment, Baron de Castille (1747 - 1826) with his wife Princess Hermine Aline Dorothée de Rohan (1785 - 1843) and their family. All seven of their children were in the painting while the youngest was being fed by their very royally dressed mother. 

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Indian Mother 4 of 26
    Raja_Ravi_Varma,_The_suckling_child

    Raja Ravi Varma (1848—1906), a noted Indian artist, entitled this piece, The Suckling Child. The mother looks so relaxed in this pose. 

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Daughters 5 of 26
    Macierzynstwo_1905

    The Polish painter StanisÅ‚aw WyspiaÅ„ski created this beautiful image called Motherhood (circa 1905) of  a mother feeding her baby while her daughters look on. It's like a life lesson in paint.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons

     

     

     

  • Double Feeding 6 of 26
    Gessi_Caritas

    This woman certainly has her hands full! In this Francesco Gessi (1588—1649)  painting from the second quarter of 17th century, this mother is feeding two toddlers while two cherubs watch over.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons

     

  • A Russian Mother 7 of 26
    463px-1912._Кормилица_с_ребенком

    The Russian artist Zinaida Serebriakova (1884—1967) created this lovely painting (circa 1912)  of a nursing mother who looks straight at the viewer — a very strong and poignant image.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

     

  • A Spainish Mother 8 of 26
    405px-A.Maternidad

    This realism painting by the Spanish artist Antonio Cortina Farinós (1841—1890) is simple. It's not too fancy and not too showy and closely resembles life as it is!

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Photo or Painting? 9 of 26
    443px-A._Gallen-Kallela_Madonna

    This is an amazing illustration from 1891 that looks like a photograph, but is actually a drawing by Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865 - 1931)! It is entitled Madonna. It makes you wonder, what's the point of using a camera when people can paint like this?

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons

  • Nordic Mother 10 of 26
    454px-Albert_Neuhuys_-_Noordse_madonna

    This piece by the Scandinavian artist Albert Neuhuys (1844—1914) is entitled Nordic Madonna. The mother and child are so serene.

     

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Mary Cassatt 11 of 26
    418px-Cassatt_Mary_Maternite_1890

    The acclaimed artist Mary Cassatt (1844—1926) created this lovely breastfeeding painting way back in 1890. It's almost as if the baby is looking right into your eyes!

    Photo Source: WIkiCommons

  • Power 12 of 26
    491px-Daumier_République

    This painting is by the French artist Honoré Daumier (1808—1879) and was painted way way back in 1848. It is aptly named The Republic and really does give the feel of a civic statue.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Realistic 13 of 26
    461px-Désiré_Laugée_-_Jeune_mère

    The French artist Désiré François Laugée (1823-1896) created this eerily realistic illustration entitled Jeune mère back in 1888.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • A Motherly Moment in Finland 14 of 26
    Elin_Danielson-Gambogi_Mor

    The Finnish artist Elin Danielson-Gambogi (1861—1919) painted this intimate piece back in 1893 simply named Mother. The setting of the bedroom is so personal that it really brings power to this piece.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

     

  • Old Oil 15 of 26
    475px-Franz_Ignaz_Oefele_Stillende_Mutter

    This oil painting by Franz Ignaz Oefele (1721—1797) almost looks brand new, even though it is centuries old and was painted in 1789.

    Photo Source: WIkiCommons

  • In the Woods 16 of 26
    522px-Giorgione,_the_tempest_08

    This is a very early breastfeeding painting by Giorgione (1477—1510) and is of a woman in the woods nursing a child — while naked. It was created all the way back in 1505.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Family in a Field 17 of 26
    456px-Jacob_Smits_Lente

    Jacob Smits, a Dutch Painter (1855-1928), created this family portrait of a mother nursing her baby while her other children and her partner stand by.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Texture 18 of 26
    Janis_Rozentals_-_Mother_and_Child

    This 1904 portrait entitled Mother and Child by Janis Rozentāls is a beautiful sketch that is quite powerful in its simplicity.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Renoir 19 of 26
    431px-Renoir_maternite

    Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841—1919) is a "master" and his amazing talent shines brightly with his piece, Maternité ou femme allaitant son enfant, from 1886. Bonus points for the cute chubby baby thighs and the kitty cat.

     Photo Source: Wiki Commons

  • Gipsy Woman with Child 20 of 26
    537px-Tihanyi_Gipsy_Woman_with_Child

    This piece entitled Gipsy Woman with Child is by the Hungarian artist Lajos Tihanyi (1885—1938) in 1908.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

     

  • Trio 21 of 26
    359px-Otto_Mueller_-_Polnische_Familie

    This odd portrait was created by the German artist Otto Mueller (1874—1930) back in 1919.
    Something about this is eerie — but still cool.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Look! 22 of 26
    Mother_and_child_with_Harlequin_18th_century

    This piece from the 18th century is by an anonymous Flemish painter and is entitled Mother and Child with Harlequin. It seems like the guy in black is saying, "Hey look! She's breastfeeding!"

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • The Baby 23 of 26
    390px-Modersohn-Becker,_Stillende_Mutter

    This piece is from 1902, by the artist Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876—1907). The baby looks like he could steal your soul!

     

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

  • Thistles 24 of 26
    401px-Bernardelli-mater-mnba

    The Brazialian born artist Henrique Bernardelli (1858—1936) created this piece back in 1885 of a mother feeding her child, but one has to wonder why he put her in a field of thistles.

    Photo Source: Wiki Commons

     

     

  • Beach Feeding 25 of 26
    751px-Artgate_Fondazione_Cariplo_-_Bettinelli_Mario_-_Maternità

    The Italian artist Mario Bettinelli created this dreamy and whimsical painting back in 1921.

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

     

  • The Family and Lion 26 of 26
    Callot_Marie_Casimire_with_children

    This piece by Claude Callot from around 1685 is entitled Portrait of Queen Marie Casimire with Children. The Queen holds her youngest, who fell asleep after nursing while her other kids lounge on a lion. Yes, a lion! 

    Photo Source: WikiCommons

 

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