I am always delighted when I stumble across natural parenting in historical photos or art. It seems to affirm a strong belief of mine- that society’s discomfort at public breastfeeding and other intuitive forms of parenting is a modern phenomenon.
(I wish I could say phenomenon without following it up with a musical “doodoodidodo phenomenon doodoodidoo” it would make me feel a lot more like a grown up but I can’t so…)
Allow these breastfeeding images to be a salve on the wound caused by the public shaming of breastfeeding mothers. Some of history’s best artists and the world’s most sohisticated fine art deal with the beautiful act of nursing – try fitting the word “tramp” in to some of these situations.
Come and take a stroll through some of my absolute favourite natural parenting paintings by some of my favourite artists…
I love the everyday scenario of a mother perched on a wall to respond to her baby’s need. I feel like her eyes have the oxytocin glaze, that relaxed kind of high breastfeeding can sometimes produce.
Artist Stella Mertens says “Renoir – eternal continuity- this flesh remains bound to this flesh; monument to hope and love created by your genius.”
The Three Ages of Life: Detail
Oh, Klimt. A hero of mine depicting a passion of mine. Look at the connection between mother and child here! The vulnerability and the trust between them. There is a peace here in this deepest of sleeps; the contentedness of cosleeping.
Mother and Child
One of the first things strangers often remark when they see my large baby on back is “Gosh, you must have a strong back!” As if it is a hardship. I love this picture as it perfectly shows that babywearing is no hardship, no maternal sacrifice. There is pleasure here. A woman able to work, to create, while nurturing a child. The child is intrigued – mother is opening doors to the world and the child is in the perfect place to discover it all.
This baby is guzzling like a champion and he has that look on his face that nursing babies often get – a sort of pride at nailing this breastfeeding business. I love the delight on the mother’s face and I love that these are expressions that have crossed the faces of millions of nursing mothers and babies over the course of history. Utamaro, what a legend.
What is your favourite natural parenting image?