Mother's Day Art – Famous Artists Paint Their Moms

Mothers play a very important part in Art History.

From countless artists' interpretation of the 'Madonna and Child' theme, to the the Impressionist paintings of Mary Cassatt, who skillfully captured the idea of domesticity and the bond between a mother and her children... we have plenty of amazing mom art to study and ponder!

Mother's Day Art History – Learn about three famous artists who painted their moms. Art history for kids. Famous Artist Study.

As we get ready to celebrate Mother's Day next week, let's take a look at the way some famous painters portrayed their mothers in their art.

  James Abbott McNeill Whistler,   Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1  ( Whistler's Mother), 1871

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Whistler's Mother), 1871

Whistler's Mother

This painting is technically called Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1, but everyone calls it by it's nickname – Whistler's Mother. James McNeill Whistler was an American painter and he is most famous for this painting. It's sometimes called the "Victorian Mona Lisa" and it was the first painting done by an American artist to be hung in the Louvre in Paris. It's so famous, it's been mentioned in literature and even parodied in popular culture.

In fact modern production genius had thought of everything: sheets, towels, pillow cases, and a print of Whistler’s Mother for over every fireplace.
— Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Whistler's mother parody

  Pablo Picasso ,  Portrait of the Mother of the Artist , 1896

Pablo PicassoPortrait of the Mother of the Artist, 1896

Picasso's Mother

This is Maria Picasso y Lopez. Can you believe that Picasso painted this portrait of his mother when he was only 15 years old?! Most people associate Picasso's portraiture with his cubist works, but he was actually classically trained as a child and young man. He showed great artistic talent from a very young age, and was considered to be somewhat of a prodigy! Picasso recalled, "When I was a child, my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general. If you become a monk, you'll end up as the Pope.' Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso."


  Vincent van Gogh ,  Portrait of the Artist's Mother , 1888

Vincent van Gogh, Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1888

Van Gogh's Mother

Vincent painted his mother, Anna Carbentus van Gogh, in 1888. He made this painting by looking at a black and white photograph. She was not an affectionate mother, but expressed her love for her family with her words and her actions. She loved to garden and be in nature, and she took her family out for daily walks. She encouraged her children to draw, and kept notebooks full of her own flower and plant illustrations. She passed her love of art, the written word, and nature down to her oldest son Vincent, who famously captured the stars on canvas in a way that no one else ever had before.


Enjoy exploring the art of Mothers this May, and maybe your little ones would like the opportunity to paint their own Mother! If they do, make sure to post it on Instagram and tag #arthistorykids, or share it in our fun Facebook group!