Artists Inspired By Mothers

by Aileen Mitchell 27. February 2017 10:37

Mother’s Day is just around the corner (26th March – put it in your diary!). Today we look at mothers who inspired, encouraged and modelled for some of the most famous artists of all time.

Mother and Child by David Freeman
Mother and Child by David Freeman

Lucian Freud, one of the most celebrated 20th century portrait artists, had a close relationship with his mother, which we can see in his portraiture. Throughout Freud’s childhood his mother took a very keen interest in his talent, and later his career. This all stopped, however, when Freud’s father died. The death of Ernst L. Freud had a catastrophic effect on his mother, Lucie, who suffered from deep depression until she died.

It was in her long period of depression that Freud began to paint her in a collection of very intimate works. These are very detailed snapshots into a private time with mother and son that really shows the lengths of her suffering and distance from her son and the world. Works such as, ‘The Painter’s Mother Resting I, 1975-1976’ are some of Freud’s most well-known and critically acclaimed. 

It is believed that throughout his mother’s period of depression, Freud spent over 4,000 hours painting her. Art historian, Lawrence Gowing, wrote that this was the longest time in three hundred years since a painter showed so much about their relationship with their mother in art since Rembrandt.

This picture is a faithful representation of one of Rembrandt's portraits of his mother.

Rembrandt van Rijn, iconic Dutch artist, is well known for documenting his own self-portraits to show his aging process. He also used his mother as a model for many of his portraits to display similar details of aging. It was common during Rembrandt's era for artists to hone their skills by creating portrait studies of aging subjects, however Rembrandt took his portraits one step further. Using costume and lighting, he created much more theatrical interpretations of his mother that have become highly collectable. 

 

Potrait of the Artist's Mother - Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh has to have a mention here, as he is also one of the most famous artists who was directly inspired by his mother. Anna Carbentus van Gogh was an energetic, family oriented woman who always expressed great affection for her children and husband. One of her beliefs to a happy life was spending time watching flowers grow. She divided up responsibility of the family garden between all the family, which meant her son Vincent spent a lot of his time around flowers that can be seen later in his artwork. Anna was an enthusiastic amateur artist herself and loved to sketch flowers and plants. She noticed van Gogh had a keen talent for drawing and painting their garden flowers from a young age and continued to show her support when he became a full-time artist.

 

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 by James Abbot McNeill Whistler

The Whistler's Mother, or to give it its correct title, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 is one of the most famous paintings of an artist's mother. Originally meant to be a portrait of the much younger daughter of an MP, Maggie Graham, this convas was instead used as a study of James Abbot McNeill Whistler's mother. 

In a letter to a friend, Whistler's mother explained how Graham had not shown up for a potrait appointment, and how she had decided to stand in. Anna McNeill Whistler also detailed how her son had failed to finish a painting of Mr Graham despite several sittings, producing only half finished, unsuccessful portraits. Anna Whistler was also a very supportive mother and was even James Whistler's art agent for a time when she stayed with him in London.

Blue Iris in my Garden by Simon Knott
Blue Iris in my Garden by Simon Knott

Van Gogh’s feelings of isolation from the family increased as he got older. His unusual love life, his unorthodox views of the world and his battle with mental illness were all said to be strains on the family. Despite this, he always enjoyed sending his most prized paintings back home to his mother. These included giant irises, roses and great bouquets of flowers – all of which he knew she would love. Van Gogh’s famous portrait of his mother also captures her proud and vibrant nature in the colours chosen by the artist. Whilst painting his mother’s portrait he wrote to his brother Theo, “I am doing a portrait of Mother for myself. I cannot stand the colourless photograph, and I am trying t do one in a harmony of colour, as I see her in my memory.”

The theme of motherhood is also used by many of our own artists at artgallery.co.uk. Have a look at some of our own artists inspired by mothers…

Madonna Of The North by Stephen Davison
Madonna Of The North by Stephen Davison

Stephen Davison has taken inspiration from visit to an Inuit community and their culture of loyalty and motherhood. This rich monochrome oil painting is based on a photograph taken by Henry G. Kaiser circa 1906.

Happy Memory by Mrs Wilkes
Happy Memory by Mrs Wilkes

Mrs Wilkes’ line drawing is a great modern take on the notions of motherhood. The simple addition of red lips and the mark on the mother’s tummy draws the eye to the main theme of the drawing. 

abstract mum by Sandy Jai Hughes
abstract mum by Sandy Jai Hughes

Sandy Jai Hughes has created a portrait of a mother and three children in the famous cubist style of Pablo Picasso. She has also incorporated texture into the piece by adding papier-mâché stained with coloured ink.  

Mother Protects Her Child by Hanan Saied
Mother Protects Her Child by Hanan Saied

Hanan Saied has created a dramatic acrylic on canvas depicting a Nubian woman in traditional dress protecting her baby from the natural disasters in the wold like flooding and tsunamis.

Take a look on our online gallery to find more art from our own artists inspired by their mothers.

Image credits:

Portrait of Rembrandt's mother/ Own work photo of Horst Gerson 1968 catalog/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Portrait of the Artist's Mother/ Mefusbren69 (talk | contribs) / Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 by James Abbot McNeill Whistler/ Musée d'Orsay/ Publlic Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

 

Tags:

Art History | Artists

We've Been Awarded Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award 2017!

by Aileen Mitchell 20. February 2017 17:44

ArtGallery.co.uk has won a Feefo Gold Service award, an independent seal of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering exceptional experiences, rated by real customers.

Created by Feefo, Trusted Service is awarded to businesses that use Feefo to collect genuine ratings and reviews. A badge of honour, this accreditation remains unique as all the awards are based purely on the interactions with verified customers. This feedback has been collated by the Feefo review platform, with the accolades being awarded based upon performance. 

We met the criteria of collecting at least 50 reviews between January 1st 2016 and December 31st 2016, and achieved a Feefo service rating of between 4.5 and 5.0.

Aileen Mitchell from ArtGallery.co.uk said:

“It’s a real honour to receive this award from Feefo. To be recognised for delivering exceptional experiences to our customers is a great achievement.
We’ve been working hard to ensure our customers receive the best service possible, and being able to listen, understand and respond to their needs has enabled us to improve our offering in 2016. We’re looking forward to another successful year ahead.”

Andrew Mabbutt, CEO at Feefo added:

“We would like to offer our congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Feefo Trusted Service award. We are so proud that so many businesses are putting customer service first.,”

“We have been working closely with all our customers to build trust and transparency online, and ultimately helping shoppers buy with confidence and make better decisions.” 

Feefo is a ratings and reviews, and customer analytics platform. They collect genuine, purchase-verified reviews on behalf of over 3,000 businesses. Feefo ensures that all feedback is authentic by matching it to a legitimate transaction. We believe this is the best way to combat the rising issue of fake reviews.

To read our reviews, please go to our ArtGallery.co.uk reviews on Feefo.

Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award Badge

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Malvern Theatres - Spring Exhibition 20 February - 1 April 2017

by Humph Hack 19. February 2017 15:36

We try to make the selection of artists we invite to Malvern Theatres a mixture who have never shown in Malvern before as well as some who are firm favourites. The three in the current show are all new.

Martin Ball is a self-taught artist from the Bristol area with a background in graffiti art and illustration.

His work is built from his love of colours, energy and emotion.  He aims to create works which add a real visual impact to any room.

Like artists for generations before him, he has chosen currently, to concentrate largely on one style. This focus allows him to explore subtle differences in tone and balance – reaching for perfection with every new work. But, like all artists before, he will probably never feel he has achieved this final step. In the meantime we can revel in some of the most energetic and vibrant works Malvern has ever seen.

Selling online is a newish venture for him. He has, however, attracted significant attention on the internet and is already selling well.

 

David Barber has a B.A. Hons Degree in Art and worked for many years as an Illustrator and Graphic Designer.

 A large proportion of his early working life was spent in the magnificent landscapes of the Cumbrian and Peak District - National Parks. From these early days he developed a real love for the peace and beauty of these places. His paintings are produced in response to frequent walks through these wild and often bleak open spaces. They are an attempt to capture some of the light and freshness of nature through a thoughtful use of colour and tone.

Early stages of a painting progress quickly with rapid brush strokes applied very loosely to the canvas to sketch in the major features of the composition. A tonal under painting is built upon these initial marks and this is followed by the application of the major colours. Final adjustments to colours and compositional elements are then made to complete the painting. Wherever appropriate he retains as much of the initial 'sketch' phase in the final work as possible, as it's often this stage that gives the paintings their vibrancy.

He produces paintings that can hold your attention with their rich colours or carefully placed details. He doesn't rely on tricks, but completes his works with care, love and patience. He says,

“I want owners of my work to feel as though they've bought a jewel that they can treasure”.

David’s work is held in several galleries and until recently, these have been his only outlet. Selling online is a newish venture for him.

David Moore was born in Derby. He is entirely self-taught but, as can be seen from the work in this exhibition, clearly has a high degree of natural ability.

Some artists adopt a style which they settle into, going on to refine and hone the outcome over a number of years. Others go through a series of styles over time. Unusually, in David’s case, he has chosen to paint in a wide variety of genre, thereby showing an impressive degree of skill. He is influenced by many great artists, which is why his artworks are so varied. His strongest influences are the French Impressionists.

 The works in this exhibition are largely in oils but all are on canvas. His works have been purchased world-wide.

The exhibition is open every day - all day until the last show closes until Saturday 1 April.

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Why Do We Draw Hearts In The Famous Shape?

by Aileen Mitchell 1. February 2017 14:03

Kaleidoscope Butterfly Heart Picture by Sara Lawson
Kaleidoscope Butterfly Heart Picture by Sara Lawson

The heart shape is a world-recognised symbol of love, romance and conversely sacrifice.  It can be seen everywhere – it's even on our emoji keyboards in multiple colours, and being trademarked by footballers. Although the heart shape bears little resemblance to the anatomical shape of the heart, it has been used and accepted as the recognised shape since the late Middle Ages and depicted this way in art history. 

Up until the Middle Ages, the heart was typically depicted as a pear – yes, a pear – or a pine cone, and then the shape seems to have been turned 180 degrees so that the point faced down with the scalloped edge at the top. There are no records that explain why this change occurred or why it then became the way to represent the heart, but from 13th and 14th century Britain the heart symbol was recognised as the same way up that we see it today.

Saint Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne

Saint Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne (1645 - 1650)

Although this shape that hasn't changed in hundreds of years and was established fairly quickly, it was not used as a symbol of romantic love until later. The heart shape during the Middle Ages still symbolised exactly what it was meant to be: the heart. This led to its use in many religious paintings, most famously works painted for Martin Luther, an important influencer in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The 'Sacred Heart' of Christ was often depicted with the new shape, and was supposed to remind people of Jesus' sacrifice for the good of humanity. Not only in art, but the new shape got top billing on the deck of playing cards for the heart suit during the 15th century – a design that remains the same today.

 Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga by Jose de Paez

Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga by Jose de Paez (1729 - 1790)

There were some variations in the design of the heart shape – particularly in religious paintings. Some painters still kept the aorta on show, but this extra detail gradually died out because the heart symbol we see today was already recognised on playing cards and many other places. 

There are various theories as to how and why the new shape came about: some say it is the shape of fig leaves, ivy leaves or the water lily – all symbols associated with fidelity. Some say that the top of the shape represents the buttocks, breasts and various other parts of the human anatomy associated with desire. These hypotheses, however, appear to have come about in the 1960s and have no real historical evidence to suggest this is the case. There doesn’t even appear to be sufficient evidence connecting the old pear shaped heart with the newer version.

 

Big Pink Heart (circa 1910)

During the 19th century, a period heavily influenced by the Romantics (late 18th century to early 19th century), the heart symbol became heavily associated with romantic love, passion and sacrifice. This was also the time when the penny post created the craze for greetings cards. St Valentine's Day cards with copious, heavily decorated heart symbols were very popular and, at the time, deeply romantic. Since then the use of the heart around St Valentine's Day has become more popular than ever.

Image from 'Keith Haring: The Political Line' exhibition by Keith Haring

In contemporary art, artists took the heart symbol and included it in some of their most famous works. Keith Haring, the American artist and social activist used hearts in his earliest work and carried this theme on throughout his entire career. At a glance, the vibrant, cartoon-like simplicity of Haring's illustrations look innocent and fun. The drawings are in fact of two men in love, which was a bold and positive statement during the time it was created in the 1980s. The positive statements were praised as helping society accept people for who they were. The bold lines around the heart are seen as large gestures of positive energy – something very characteristic of Haring. He was believed to be a real romantic and noted for believing in the best in humanity with the power of love.

Queen Kate of Hearts by Marietta Osyan
Queen Kate of Hearts by Marietta Osyan

Tracey Emin had a variety of live exhibitions of her neon signs, most famous among the locations were Times Square and The Peninsula, Hong Kong. These neon signs were messages of love, often surrounded by the heart symbol. In a world where most signs are advertising, a message of genuine love really stands out – particularly when it has a heart drawn around it. In an interview with the White Cube gallery Tracey Emin explained, "It's an eternal statement about love […] Even if it sounds over romantic or corny, at the end of the day nearly everyone must have experienced that." 

Love Heart 'embrace' Lino Print by Lauren Downes
Love Heart 'embrace' Lino Print by Lauren Downes

After much research and few answers, historians have concluded that there are a number of possibilities to explain the reason why the heart symbol is the shape it is, but none of them have been documented. Much like art itself, the answer to our title is subjective – a heart shape can be the way it is for any reason you want.

Why do you think hearts are drawn the shape they are?

Golden Heart by Kris  Mercer
Golden Heart by Kris Mercer

Image credits:

Saint Augustine by Philippe de Champaigne/ Gift of The Ahmanson Foundation/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga by José de Páez/ http://arttattler.com/archivelatinamerica.html/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showing woman holding heart shaped decoration and flowers, scanned from period card from ca. 1910 with no notice of copyright.

Keith Haring: The Political Line/ Aaron Muszalski - Flickr/ Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

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Art History | Artists





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