By now we are almost certain you have all seen the controversial breastfeeding cover of "Time" magazine, which features a 26-year old mother with her son sucking on her breast. Although the nation has been shocked by the blatant image of a mother breastfeeding her child, the subject is one of the most traditional motifs in art history. Photographer Martin Schoeller even cited paintings of Madonna and Child as references in a "behind the cover" article for the magazine.
In the Washington Post, Maura Judkis expanded on the idea, tying in more bizarre instances of non-maternal breastfeeding in art history. In one piece, wolf babies "Romulus and Remus" eagerly suck milk from their she-wolf mother's teets, while in Jean-Baptiste Greuze's 18th century masterpiece, we explore the story of "Roman Charity", where a mother secretly breastfeeds her father after he is sentenced to death by starvation.
In honor of Judkis' intriguing article, we have compiled a slideshow of some of our favorite images of breastfeeding in art history. It certainly widens your perspective to realize the content that shocks us today has been present for hundreds of years, doesn't it? Enjoy the best mammary glands art history has to offer, though don't say we didn't warn you about the creepy nature of medieval children...
"Madonna and Child" by Andrea Solario Milan (1465-1524). Image: Public Domain.
'Virgin and Child' by Nino Pisano (1365). Maria del Spina, Pisa. Image: Public Domain.
'Madonna Litta' Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1490. Image: Wikimedia Commons.
"Virgin Child" by Christus Bentinck (1444 - 1476). Image: Public Domain.
Portrait Diptych of Laurent Froimont (left wing) by Rogier van der Weyden (1460s). Image: Public Domain.
"Madonna And Child" by Jean Fouquet (1450). Image: Public Domain.
"Nursing Madonna" by Bernardino Luini, (1485-1532). Image: Public Domain.
"Charity" by Guido Reni (1575-1642). Image: Public Domain.
"Roman Charity" by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1767. Image: Wikimedia Commons
"Roman Charity" by Peter Paul Rubens (1612). Image: Wikimedia Commons.