Two Pictures I Would Like Best To Own Series–Part 8

Hello, again History Lovers,

Today’s post includes two paintings that were so popular in the 1920s that they have already been featured in previous posts in this series. However, the story of the acquisition of the first painting, Morning by Jean-Baptist-Camille Corot by farm wife Mrs. C.H.B from Iowa demonstrates her love and appreciation for this piece of art. Sadly the available images of this prolific French artist’s paintings are of such poor quality that it is difficult to see the true beauty of his work. We will have to trust in Mrs. B’s lovely critique.

The second painting is by one of the immortal Italian High Renaissance artists, Raphael. I have also included two high-quality photos showing some of the minute detail in the painting Madonna and Child. I particularly appreciate the intricacy of Madonna’s hair. Although Mrs. B only owned a postcard size copy of this painting at the time of her writing, she reports that it engenders in her the spiritual inspiration to “carry on”. I hope that at some point in her life she was able to acquire a sizeable copy to hang on her wall.


An Inspiration To Carry On

Morning by French Landscape Painter, Camille Corot ca. 1860

The picture which has the place of honor in my farm home is a reproduction of Corot’s landscape often called Morning. It is full of the calm tranquility found in all the artist’s pictures, a lovely scene most attractive for the delicacy of foliage and the transparency of air and water. The figures who I suppose to be a mother and child intent upon gathering blossoms and leaves seem to have a unity of purpose, to be in perfect harmony with each other, and certainly, are in harmony with the rest of the picture. Although I have lived seven years with this picture over my mantel, I have never grown the least tired of it as I have several others I own and I always find new satisfaction and pleasure in looking upon it. I hope that old age will be kind enough to allow me a seat in my own inglenook with his picture still hanging above the fireplace.

Incidentally, I prize my particular copy of Morning all the more because I carried it home from London in my hands through a stormy, perilous voyage in September 1914. Because I loved the picture so much, I wanted to make sure to have a good reproduction of it. So, I brought it home wrapped carefully in a steamer-rug and shawl strap and would entrust it to no one else’s keeping but my own.

La Belle Jardiniere (aka Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist) 1507 by Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael

The other picture of my choice I own only a postcard form but should be most happy to have on my walls for I know that my children could not help but love it—Raphael’s La Belle Jardiniere. Who can resist the darling babies of this picture? And what mother but would wish to be a better mother after a study of the gentle features of Mary, the mother of the Christ Child, who looks up at her in perfect confidence? It seems to be a lesson in divine love and patience—something which a good many farm mothers with several babies and much to do, sadly need. (This is not meant for a sermon—I was merely referring to myself!) I love the naturalness of this little group—the Madonna looking fondly down on the Beloved Child and little Saint John regarding him adoringly. To me, the pictures offer an inspiration that I should like to share with my family and with all who come into my home.

La Belle Jardiniere by Raphael detail
La Belle Jardiniere by Raphael detail

These pictures give me something which a busy, workaday life does not always afford, a restful satisfaction and spiritual inspiration to “carry on” to the best of one’s ability. Such I should think is the chief mission of pictures on our walls—to give us something we should be loath to miss and to remind us of wonders that we might otherwise forget. –Mrs. C.H.B., Iowa


The above article was originally published in The Farmer’s Wife–A Magazine For Farm Women, March 1923, Page 359; Webb Publishing Company, St. Paul Minnesota. Articles may be edited for length and clarity.

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