Mother and Child (The Oval Mirror) (detail). Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926). Oil on canvas, 32 1/8 x 25 7/8 in., ca. 1899. H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.47)
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Saluting 5,000 Years of Mothers

Across centuries and cultures, artists have paid visual tribute to the joys of motherhood

Today and every day, mothers deserve the best—and we hope you’re spending time pampering yours right now. (And if you can’t be there in person, remember to call her. Really.) Celebrate Mother’s Day with us with a spin through The Met collection, one that illustrates how mothers and their children have been an irresistible subject for artists for thousands of years.

A Ceramic Cradle

Mother and Child Figure. Mexico, Mesoamerica (Tlatilco). Ceramic, H. 2 1/2 x W. 2 1/4 in., 12th–9th century B.C. Purchase, Arthur M. Bullowa Bequest, 1998 (1998.242)

Divine Motherhood

Terracotta statuette of Aphrodite and Eros. Greek, South Italian (Hellenistic). H. 8 1/4 in., terracotta, 3rd century B.C. Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.232.11)

Spiritual Bonds

Virgin and Child in Majesty. Made in Auvergne, France. Walnut with paint, tin relief on a lead white ground, and linen; 31 5/16 x 12 1/2 x 11 1/2 in.; ca. 1175–1200. Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1916 (16.32.194a, b)

Lacing Up

The Lacemaker. Nicolaes Maes (Dutch, 1634–1693). Oil on canvas, 17 3/4 x 20 3/4 in., ca. 1656. The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931 (32.100.5)

Getting a Wiggle On

Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child. Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, ca. 1754–1806). Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper, 14 3/8 x 9 5/8 in., 1790. Rogers Fund, 1922 (JP1278)

Hers-and-Hers Outfits

Mrs. Robert Shurlock (Henrietta Ann Jane Russell, 1775–1849) and Her Daughter Ann. John Russell (British, 1745–1806). Pastel on paper, laid down on canvas, 23 7/8 x 17 3/4 in., 1801. Gift of Geoffrey Shurlock, 1967 (67.132)

Handled with Care

Figure: Mother with Vessel and Child. Nigeria (Yoruba peoples). Ivory, H. 6-1/8 in., 19th–20th century. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, 1991 (1991.162.2)

Not-So-Still Life

Young Mother Sewing. Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926). Oil on canvas, 36 3/8 x 29 in., 1900. H.O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, 1929 (29.100.48)

Lighting the Hearth

Young Mother Gazing at Her Child. William Bouguereau (French, 1825–1905). Oil on canvas, 56 x 40 1/2 in., 1871. Bequest of Zene Montgomery Pyle, 1993 (1993.402)

Modern Mom

Mother and Child. Njideka Akunyili Crosby (Nigerian, born 1983). Acrylic, transfers, colored pencils, collage and commemorative fabric on paper, 95 3/4 in. x 10 ft. 4 1/4 in., 2016. Purchase, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation Gift, 2017 (2017.106)

Delight your mother every day of the year with The Met Store’s range of art-inspired gifts.

Replies

  1. Author icon Patrisa Stahl

    Gorgeous! Lovely Imagery; however, it would have been nice to include a couple of modern mothers also..
    When I watch what my daughter and daughter-in-law do; each and every day I am amazed. I see the
    mothers of today quite overloaded with child care, elder care, home care, careers, volunteer work, etc., etc., etc.
    My guess is that they simply do not have time to ‘sit’ for a portrait.

    Reply
    1. Author icon Brian Healy

      Dear Patrisa — Thank you for reading the post, and for taking the time to comment on it. I hope you noticed the work by Njideka Akunyili Crosby from 2016, at the end of the post. The Met collection features plenty of “modern” moms, too! // Yours, Brian Healy, The Met Store

      Reply
    1. Author icon Brian Healy

      Dear Janet — If the sculpture you’re referring to is one of the artworks featured in the post, you’ll be able to see the full Met collection record when you click on its image. If there’s another sculpture you need help finding, I encourage you to contact Customer Service at customer.service@metmuseum.org. // Yours, Brian Healy, The Met Store

      Reply
  2. Author icon Elaine schanzer

    Living in northern Westchester, I have been enjoying the emails and in depth info on different exhibits and artists enormously. Thank you. We always made a point of driving into the city and visiting the different museums while our children were growing up. The fashion exhibit was always a special mother daughter day. The Egyptian exhibit was a special treat for our son. My daughter has continued the tradition with her daughter. They have both done minors in art history in college.. I forwarded one of the recent emails to my daughter and she asked me to continue sending them.. she now lives in Menlo Park CA. With her family.. thank you.

    Reply
  3. Author icon Shirley Russell

    What a beautiful presentation of Mothers and incidental interaction with their children!!! I feel honored – and very lucky – that I am alive here in Manhattan today to enjoy these meaningful and timeless works! Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Author icon Maureen Mc Cann

    This was a beautiful selection of works of art celebrating Mother’s Day. Each work was outstanding
    and what I enjoyed about this selection was to see the gentleness and sensitivity between mother
    and child. These works inspired such tenderness.

    Reply
  5. Author icon Eileen Valerie Murphy

    Beautiful Thank You! Happy Mothers Day to all Mother,Mothers to be and all those who have been Mothers for others. Valerie Murphy

    Reply
  6. AWESOME…mothers don’t often get the credit they deserve. This was a very nice tribute to them. Thank you.
    Linda Black

    Reply
  7. Author icon Doris Donnelly

    Thank you, Brian,
    What a gorgeous collection with marvelous introductory headings:
    All were perfect accompaniments, though “Getting a Wiggle On” and “Hers-and-Hers Outfits” were my favorites.
    Doris

    Reply

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