Photo of "First Steps [Primeros pasos]" by Jean Charlot a painting depicting a mother leaning over a child holding a cloth wrapped underneath the child's arms to help them stand

Is your mom stately? Or silly? Driven? Or down-to-earth?

In honor of Mother’s Day, we took a look at the diverse works in our collection that depict women — including mothers — and found some that represented qualities we love best about the moms in our lives. Whereas one mother’s defining feature might be her glamour, as in Andy Warhol’s Farrah Fawcett, another might be most admired for her selflessness, as exemplified in Jacques Blanchard’s Charity. Do any of these examples remind you of a mother you know? You may be inspired to invite her for a stroll through our galleries to see the art in person after her Mother’s Day brunch…


Image Credit:
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Madonna and Child, circa 1732
Oil on canvas. 48.3 cm x 40.5 cm (19 in. x 15 15/16 in.).
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection.

She’s like a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter day. She quiets all worries with kind words or a warm embrace. The comforting mother offers emotional nourishment and security to her child. No matter the situation, she always finds the right thing to say or do to make her child feel at peace. Madonna and Child portraits often touch on these sentiments, and this work by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo is no exception.



Image Credit:
Oionokles Painter
Red-Figure Lekythos (Oil Container), circa 470 BCE
Terracotta. 36.5 cm (14 3/8 in.).
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund and the James R. Dougherty, Jr. Foundation, 1980.

The ambitious mother leads by example. Her goals in her personal and work life are lofty and she works hard to achieve them. Like Nike, the winged Goddess of Victory painted on this c. 470 BCE Greek vase, her strength and spirit lead her to success. She is a dedicated and inspiring role model for her children.



Image Credit:
Jacques Blanchard
Charity, circa 1634-1635
Oil on canvas. 110.5 cm x 142.8 cm (43 1/2 in. x 56 1/4 in.).
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection.

Physically and emotionally demanding, motherhood is far from a selfish pursuit. Jacques Blanchard painted the personification of Charity, who breastfeeds a child and tends to two others around her. Juggling the tasks of motherhood is a massive undertaking, but it is one that this devoted mother handles with calm and grace.



Image Credit:
Andy Warhol
Farrah Fawcett, 1980.
Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas. 101.6 cm x 101.6 cm (40 in. x 40 in.).
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Bequest of Farrah Fawcett, 2010.

The glamorous mother turns heads and enjoys the finer things in life. Like the iconic movie star Farrah Fawcett in this portrait by Andy Warhol, she is best known for her captivating presence and style. Bold and beautiful, she shows her children how to be cool and confident.



Image Credit:
Jean Charlot
First Steps [Primeros pasos], 1937
Oil on canvas. 51.1 cm x 61.2 cm (20 1/8 in. x 24 1/8 in.).
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Julie Day and Charles A. Pinney III, 1983.

Jean Charlot’s First Steps is a touching depiction of a mother’s patience and encouragement as she leads her child into his first steps. This mom is her child’s number one fan and supporter in all endeavors. Her gentle nudges encourage her child to take risks and to explore the unknown, but with the assurance that she will always be there to catch them if they fall.



Image Credit:
William Gilbert Gaul
The Land of the Free, circa 1900
Oil on canvas. 94.6 cm x 80 cm (37 1/4 in. x 31 1/2 in.).
Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, Gift of C.R. Smith, 1976.

The Sioux woman in William Gilbert Gaul’s The Land of the Free stands firmly and solitarily. Her gaze out across the wide landscape is reverent, contemplative. This type of mother possesses the wisdom that only years of experiences can cultivate, and she draws upon it to guide her child as they experience the world for themselves.

Written by Emily Henderson, Marketing & Communications Intern at the Blanton Museum of Art and 2018 Graduate of The University of Texas at Austin

2 Responses

  1. Stephanie Henderson says:

    I love them all! Well written Emily Henderson

  2. Martha Bradshaw says:

    My mother has taught me so much about kindness, love, generosity and patience. She is still a wonderful role model at age 87.

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