LeAnne Martin
Beauty and the Beholder

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mary Cassatt and Lullabies

Years ago, when my friend found out I was going to have a baby, she gave me a copy of A Child’s Book of Lullabies, with paintings by Mary Cassatt. A tall, thin, pale yellow hardback, the book is filled with some of the artist’s most beloved oils and pastels. In college, I liked Cassatt’s paintings for their subject matter as well as their beauty. Through her work, she brought validity and importance to the role of women in the home by depicting them reading, working, and caring for children.

Long after my college days, as a mother-to-be, I looked at Cassatt’s paintings with new eyes, especially noting the intimacy and tenderness between the mothers and children. Anticipating the joy of holding and feeding my own baby, I could almost see us in those paintings.

The book, an early favorite of my daughter’s, brought about one of her first experiences with art and music. As a toddler, she would pull the book off her shelf, bring it over, and snuggle up with me, either on the floor or in the rocking chair. We would go slowly through the book, page by page. She looked at it carefully and pointed to the music. I sang the songs and talked about what we saw in the paintings.

Now six years later, my daughter still takes the book off her shelf and looks at periodically. She also uses it as a lap desk when she’s drawing pictures of her own, writing stories, or both. I wonder if when she looks at those paintings, she remembers the times in her little yellow room when we gazed and sang and snuggled. Maybe, maybe not. But I won’t forget them.


Marvelissa said...

Leanne, I don't have that book, but would love to see it sometime. My favorite Cassatt work is "Maternal Caress" (I know a bit of her work, but would hardly say I'm well-versed) - I remember the sheer and pure joy of having Rebecca's young, toddler arms squeezing my neck and how natural and wonderful it felt to hug her back. My favorite gift in life - and I think it's the greatest gift I've ever received from God (aside from, of course, salvation) is being her Mother. This is such a beautiful blog - and deeply meaningful to me.

P.S. - This is Melissa Martin writing you!

LeAnne Benfield Martin said...


I feel the same way about motherhood. Thanks for reading and for commenting.



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