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Portraying Pregnancy

Holbein to Social Media

Though many early modern women spent much of their lives in a state of pregnancy, their pregnancies are seldom made apparent in surviving portraits. Comprising material from the fifteenth century to the present day, Portraying Pregnancy considers the different ways in which a sitter’s pregnancy was, or was not, visibly represented to the viewer. 
 
Over a span of more than five hundred years, art historian Karen Hearn looks at representations of pregnancy through the ages and interrogates how the social mores and preoccupations of different periods affected the ways in which pregnant women were visually depicted. Exploring different religious, cultural, and historical settings, Hearn reveals how portrayals of pregnancy have changed over time and across contexts. Some portraits reinforce an “ideal” female role while others celebrate fertility or assert shock value. Eighty color images accompany Hearn’s extensive and illuminating history, including painted portraits, drawings, miniatures, prints, photographs, sculpture, textiles, and objects.

112 pages | 80 color plates | 8 1/4 x 10 1/4

Art: Art--General Studies


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Reviews

"Exploring the often wildly inventive ways in which artists in Britain have variously sought to hide, flaunt or spoof the pregnant form in art, from medieval times to the present day, Portraying Pregnancy is as beautiful as it is surprising."

The Telegraph

"Hearn is widely recognised for her pioneering work on the depiction of pregnancy in art, and her intelligent commentary in the . . . accompanying book guides the visitors through the history of her fascinating theme from the sixteenth century to the present day."

Burlington Magazine

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