The Easel

From the ‘Unknown Lady’ to Beyoncé, 500 years of pregnancy portraits

Art about motherhood is common. However, until very recently there has been reticence about pregnancy. Why? Pregnancy denotes female sexual activity which has been “hugely problematic” for some. And then there is the view that when pregnant, women do not ‘look their best’. And then there is the spectre of miscarriage or death. Even with modern medicine, “the pregnancy portrait is the space “where death and life intersect.”