Mum’s the Word

The second blog written by Rebecca during her placement, this one focuses on the upcoming Mother’s Day and an object in the collection which may make you want to do something special for your mum this Sunday.

This Sunday will see me bring my mother breakfast in bed, make her endless cups of tea and maybe even present her with flowers or a gift of some sort, because this Sunday is Mothering Sunday – so I kind of have to be nice!

Few people realise that Mother’s Day is the result of two traditions, one British and the other American, coming together.

Mothering Sunday dates from the 17th century, when churchgoers would travel to their large ‘mother’ church in their area on the fourth Sunday of Lent – hence the name ‘Mothering’ Sunday. In later years, young employees who worked away from home in Manor houses, for example as maids, were allowed home to visit their families on this day, often bringing cakes or flowers for their mother. Nowadays, Mothering Sunday is more commonly known as Mother’s Day and has been heavily influenced by the American tradition of their Mother’s Day, which began in the early 1900’s, of giving your mum cards, flowers or gifts to show how much you appreciate her.

If your in London why not head to see this painting

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to consider the painting ‘Mother and Child’, or ‘Cherries’ as it more affectionately known, by the Victorian artist, Frederic Leighton. It is one of the Museum’s most important artworks as well as a touching portrayal of the relationship between mother and child. ‘Cherries’ is made all the more special because the artist’s mother died in the same year as it was completed. For Leighton, the role of his mother was hugely important in his development as an artist and this sentiment is reflected in this painting.

Leighton was born in Scarborough in 1830 but as his mother suffered from rheumatic fever, the family travelled widely throughout Europe in his youth for the warmer weather. Leighton received drawing lessons whilst in Rome at the young age of 10 before continuing to the Academy of Art in Berlin aged 13. Within his teenage years, Leighton’s family relocated to Florence, Frankfurt and Paris, exposing the budding artist to a variety of artistic influences. So it can be seen that, because of his mother’s ill health, Leighton had the opportunity to develop his talent as an artist and achieve the great success which he did.

As shown by the story of Frederic Leighton, the role of a mother should never be underrated. So go on, treat your mum this Sunday to show her just how much she means within your life. (Hint: mum’s always like chocolate!)

‘Mother and Child (Cherries)’ is currently on loan to the V&A Museum in London as part of their exhibition ‘The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement1860-1900’, which opens 2nd April. For more information visit:


1 Response to “Mum’s the Word”

  1. 1 4D April 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    “My Momma says life is like a box of choclates”

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Blackburn Museum can be found in Blackburn, Lancashire. It houses objects documenting Blackburn's industrial past as well as a world class collection of Fine Art, Japanese prints, Icons, Numismatics and Manuscripts. Come and visit us to find out more.

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