Some historical depictions of pregnancy

In light of the brilliance that is Serena Williams, I have re-posted a very old blog (2012) about art and historical depictions of pregnancy:

Have you seen the picture of Sienna Miller in all her naked pregnant glory? It was created by British artist Jonathan Yeo and can be seen below. When released to the press earlier this week it caused quite a stir. Some critics complained that the actress only seeks publicity when it suits her, some publications censored out certain areas of her body. It is clearly a striking picture, but controversial? I don’t think so. You see artists have been painting the pregnant form for centuries.

In fact Sienna’s portrait, stunning though it is, follows a centuries old art tradition. Wind back the clock to 1482 and we find one of the most famous paintings of all time – Sandro Botticelli’s La Primavera above (although he didn’t actually name it as such; he didn’t name it at all). Depicting fertility, it has been argued that all of Botticelli’s female characters are pregnant. There is no denying the swelling around their middle sections. The most enigmatic figure of all is beautiful representation of Flores. Situated to the right of the centre of the image, she is magnificently dressed in an enchanting floral gown, natural beauty radiating from her face. Her stomach is incredibly swollen.

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Travelling to nineteenth century Netherlands Vincent van Gogh becomes responsible for one of the most moving portraits of pregnancy, entitled ‘Sorrow’, it shows a woman hunched over in despair (above).

Finally we have a painting by one of my favourite artists, Gustav Klimt. Painted in 1903 and named ‘Hope’, it one of several Klimt portraits depicting pregnancy (below). Like Sienna, the slender female looks directly towards you, seemingly content in her situation. Yet looking to the top of the painting we also see a skull and contorted faces, adding a sinister undertone to the portrait.

 

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