A Mother’s Day Gift Book
By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 12, 2010 | In Reviews
With Mother’s Day coming up in a few weeks (it’s May 9th this year), you may be wondering what to get your mom or your wife that goes beyond the usual chocolate or flowers. How about a book with over 200 paintings (and other works of art) depicting motherhood from the great artists of every civilization, but with a focus on the great Western tradition—with the Virgin Mary at its core? Even better, each painting is accompanied by a quotation about motherhood drawn from either the world’s literature or famous people, from major philosophers to movie stars.
This lovely offering, first published last year in Italian, has been published in English this year by Getty Publications, sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. A small thick hardback, measuring about 5” wide, 6” tall and an inch-and-a-half thick, The Art of Motherhood is a delight to page through as one reflects on the beautiful and striking images while reading the quotes, which are often surprisingly good. In addition to natural reflections, there is a spiritual awareness here, with quotes taken from Scripture, several popes, and even the Litany of Loreto.
I’ve reproduced seven of the paintings I like best below, along with their accompanying quotations. (If I had picked the quotations separately, I could have selected favorites for those, too, but this will give you a better feel for the book. Thus, you’ll learn more about my taste in art than my taste in words.)
I particularly recommend this as a gift from young husbands to their wives when they’re still fairly new at raising children. It can help convey the wondrous regard in which a good man holds the mother of his children, and it can also help remind frazzled moms of the essence of their calling. Write a heartfelt inscription; leave the book on your coffee table over the years so that your kids will see both the art and the inscription. However, the appeal is not limited to the young: the book is appropriate for all mothers. Considering the fine binding, glossy paper, and beautiful color reproductions, it is also a bargain at about $15.00.
The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.
— Honoré de Balzac
What are Raphael’s Madonnas but the shadow of a mother’s love, fixed in permanent outline forever?
— Thomas Wentworth Higginson
A good mother makes a good daughter.
— Henry Ward Beecher
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
O daughter, more charming than your charming mother.
I had a Mother who read me things
You may have tangible wealth untold
— Strickland Gillilan
George Dunlop Leslie
The relationship of parent and child...remains indelible and indestructible, the strongest relationship on earth.
— Theodor Reik
When you were born
— Italian nursery rhyme
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Posted by: winnie -
Jan. 17, 2018 9:56 AM ET USA
A roadmap for great reading,, from the light to the challenging. I'm especially excited about the new mystery writers which are so hard to find, and will keep my printout of this article for future suggestions and inspiration. Thank you.
Posted by: Kevin S -
Jan. 11, 2018 3:25 PM ET USA
Sowell is terrific. Read "Conflict of Visions" too: If you can appreciate his argument that policy choices are properly understood as decisions involving unavoidable tradeoffs rather than victories or defeats in the "quest for cosmic justice," you will understand much about contemporary politics.
Posted by: bkmajer3729 -
Jan. 09, 2018 2:21 PM ET USA
Very nice summary. A good bibliographic brief for anyone interested in picking up a good read. ...surprised Father Spitzer didn't make the list.