"Farewell to the Wet Nurse": Etienne Aubry and Images of Breast-Feeding in Eighteenth-Century France


By Patricia R. Ivinski, Harry C. Payne, Kathryn Calley Galitz, Richard Rand

$5.00 Softcover

Published to accompany an exhibition organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, this catalogue explores Etienne Aubry’s painting Farewell to the Wet Nurse and its presentation of different and competing views of family life and familial affections in late-eighteenth-century France. Through a narrative that contrasts a toddler’s well-heeled mother and father with the child’s humble caregivers, including the wet nurse who has probably fed and tended to him since birth, Aubry presents a juxtaposition of the loving concern of one couple against the haughty detachment of the other. The painting’s drama and the sensitive social issues it reveal are illustrative of a time when different attitudes toward the maternal role in child nurturing were developing among the French upper classes. Looking to eighteenth-century paintings, prints, and engravings of women and children, this book explores the changing views of breast-feeding at this time and the impact of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1762 novel Emile, which extolled the ideal of the lactating mother.

48 pages, 6 1/2 x 9 inches
16 black-and-white illustrations
1998

ISBN 0-931102-41-3 (softcover)

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