The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Happy Mother
  • Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1758 - 1823)
  • The Happy Mother
  • France
  • c. 1810
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 23.7 x 17 cm
    Frame size: 39.5 x 33 x 9.5 cm
  • P313
  • Reserve Gallery
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • The painting is an oil sketch for a larger painting of the subject by Constance Mayer (Paris, Musée du Louvre) that was prepared with several drawings and oil sketches by Prud'hon and shown by Mayer at the Salon of 1810 together with its pendant, 'The Unfortunate Mother', equally prepared by Prud'hon.
    The Happy Mother reflects the early nineteenth-century obsession with motherhood. It promotes the joys of breast-feeding and a female sphere as part of the core family. The two paintings reflect the situation in the relationship between Prud'hon and Mayer in an extremely unsettling way. Mayer was hoping to marry Prud'hon whose wife had a mental illness and committed suicide in 1821 when the artist refused such a plan.