My wife is a midwife, and has herself birthed six children. Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding are topics as common at our dinner table as painting and Star Wars.
I began really noticing Charity in paintings after seeing Guido Reni’s Charity at the Met in NY. Apparently I must be a big Reni fan, because I keep looking back to him. I laughed out loud looking the pile of babies trying to get to the breast, and became interested in other paintings on the same theme. I began to notice that she is always shown with a covered head, I suppose as a sign of humility. She gives of herself not to be seen before men, but for the love of giving.
William Bouguereau’s charity is probably my favorite. I like the solemn expression on her face. In this one charity is symbolic of the good that can be done with money, and she is as much a person as she is a statue.
In my own rendition, the mother herself is the hero, and I wanted to leave out the usual signs of wealth or prosperity. It’s a celebration of the simple act of a mother giving selflessly to her children.