Object Record

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Object ID Number SAM 1952.10
Object Name Painting
Artist Shahn, Ben
Title Mother and Child
Date 1947
Culture American
Copyright Estate of Ben Shahn/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Credit line Museum Aquisition Fund
Exhibit Label Ben Shahn was born in Lithuania and brought to America by immigrant parents at age eight, where he witnessed firsthand the social injustices inflicted upon ethnic minorities and the poor. He studied at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League. He believed that art should scrutinize and comment upon social injustices; Shahn’s work in particular was known for dealing with searing social issues and the harsh realities of life.

In "Mother and Child," Shahn depicts an African American woman nursing her child. Known for his flatness in style, Shahn’s reduced forms and close cropping place primary importance on the figure. The composition references classical Christian iconography of the Virgin and Child, elevating motherhood and its ability to cross all social, ethnic, and racial bounds.
Medium Tempera Paint
Material Paper/Wood
Image size H 39 1/8" x W 25 3/16"
Currently on view Yes
People Shahn, Ben
Subjects Portrait
Mother
Breastfeeding
Child
Baby