Pregnant Women and How They are Portrayed in Modern Art


568d4ff51600000001eba23aWomen have always been portrayed in art throughout time; however, there are few depictions of pregnant women in modern art. Perhaps it is because of the curvy nature of their bodies and the flow that it creates when one looks at them. It has a great appeal and certainly for male observers who look on in awe. No doubt that in paintings, children and women have been sketched throughout history, however, pregnancy is a rare sight. There are so many factors involved with not depicting a woman in pregnancy which in some cases has to do with what the particular culture has to say about pregnancy. In some cases, classical art itself has certain canons about what can be presented which certainly did not see women bearing a child as appropriate.

For cultures that are ingrained in Bible teachings of the Virgin Mary, showing a woman in a pregnant state was forbidden. However, over time these concepts were removed to some extent, and the actual process of pregnancy which is very natural was allowed to enter the art world. Thank goodness that such a natural process is available in the art world today for all to see. Pregnancy is one of the most natural states that one can experience whether you are a male or female and to be cherished for all of the time. It is important to see how a women’s womb is extended to carry a new life and how that affects the body. It’s also important to see how these results change hormones and overall behavior. Pregnancy is in itself another whole life experience like no other. The pregnancy itself is so critical to establishing close bonds with the father and beginning a new life together that will form a life-long bond of rearing that child and hopefully carry on the next generation.

Many women are aspired to be mothers. Sometimes, it is best to be educated as much as possible about pregnancy. Visit Pregnancy Approach review – free eBook download by Lauren Lee to learn more about the most efficient and natural ways to become pregnant.

As far as the art world is concerned, let’s take a look at portraits of pregnant women through time to see how the art world has progressed with this somewhat taboo subject. We’ll take a look at artworks by Deana Lawson, Dr. Congo, Marni Kotak, Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin, Daniel Edwards, Sean Preston, Marc Quinn, Alison Lapper, Ron Mueck, Lucian Freud, Alice Neel, Pablo Picasso, Venus of Willendorf and Gustav Klimt-Hope. All of these artists depict pregnancy in their way, but all have seriously done justice to this triumphal event.

venuswVenus of Willendorf

If you want to consider one of the oldest works of art that depicted pregnancy, then you must see Venus of Willendorf. This portrait was done somewhere around 26,000 BCE. Amazing! This is an oolitic limestone statue that clearly demonstrates a fertility situation. Her breasts, nipples, and abdomen, are quite enlarged to emphasize her fertility. Later, the famous Arnolfini portrait done by Jan Van Eyck became viewable in the mid 1500’s and a second artist put out a portrait entitled La Donna Gravida. All of these art pieces were of pregnant women. Although the artwork was excellent, they were not well accepted in the art world nor the lay. Interestingly, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was pregnant. However, the painting doesn’t show this. This is new information on Leonardo’s paintings due to modern scientific scanning with infra-red techniques and 3-D mappings. As the twentieth century rolled around, the art world was a little more courageous and allowed art of a more personal nature that related to everyday life. There were those in the art world that wanted to pay tribute to women and their ability to bring new life into the world and how important that was.

I’m sure it is no surprise that pregnant women enjoy having their pictures taken because they just have the best glow of all. Let’s take a look at some artists through time that has captured pregnant women at their best.

Gustav Klimt-Hope

Gustav was well known for his paintings where he used platinum and gold leaves where he depicted a woman observing her belly. There were three women at her feet possibly in prayer or morning. This piece of artwork was done circa 1907 when he introduced the metal relief on a painting’s surface. What’s fascinating about this article is that there is a skull on the pregnant women’s belly. Apparently, this was to indicate an emergence of psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud’s studies on the explorations of the child in all adults. This awareness took over European ideology at the turn of the 1900s.

girl-before-a-mirrorPablo Picasso

Picasso is well known for all of his art forms, but he sculpted a “Pregnant Woman” in 1950 that was particularly remarkable. Apparently, it was a type of wish he had for his female partner, Francoise Gilot, that he was living with at the time. She already had two children and didn’t want to have a third, so Picasso sculpted the statue to inspire her. Perhaps, unfortunately, his wish didn’t come true, but his statue was well received at MoMA in 2016. Somewhat belated but nevertheless important.

Lucian Freud

In 2016, Lucian presented his work “Pregnant Girl” at the Sotheby’s London Auction, and the piece was sold for 23.2 million dollars. It is reported to be the most tender painting of all time. It portrays his significant other, then 17 years old, pregnant with what will become their daughter Bella. Bella later became an internationally known fashion designer.

Ron Mueck

Ron was known for his hyper-realistic human figures that are made of fiberglass and silicone as well as human hair. He paid close attention to detail by studying real pregnant women, anatomical books, drawings and photographs to bring the pregnancy experience to life. This work was displayed at the National Gallery of Victoria (Australia) and certainly was a monument to motherhood. Viewers had a surprise coming in that they had to confront pregnancy in ways they were not familiar.

Marc Quinn

Quinn is well known for his Sculpture known as “Alison Lapper Pregnant” which is a 15-ton marble work of art. This work was dedicated to Alison Lapper who was born without any arms and pregnant at the time. This piece was shown at Trafalgar Square in London. The purpose of this was to show that disability is no obstacle to pregnancy. This sculpture goes far beyond and brings forth the beauty norms of Western culture and unacceptability that occurs with abnormal body forms.


There are many more artists that have depicted pregnant women in their time in painting and sculpting. However, today we have mass media including videos. Today, we can see real pregnant women and see how their bodies change throughout pregnancy. Moreover, videos have been made to demonstrate the birthing process. Although some people prefer not to watch, these videos are imperative for pregnant women to watch and learn before they give birth and anyone else who is curious.