Name this painting. A woman breastfeeding a man.

I saw this picture a few years ago and I’ve been trying to figure out it’s title and artist. I think the painting is Dutch.

Apparently, this poor guy is in some sort of jail or something and is starving. This generous woman gives him her teat to suckle.


You are probably thinking of Caravaggio’s Seven Works of Mercy (1606), oil on canvas, 390 cm x 260 cm. Here it is.

FWIW… John Steinbeck uses the motif - not sure how consciously - in The Grapes of Wrath, when Rose of Sharon, whose baby has died, breast feeds a starving old man.

I’ve seen a painting of that theme in the gallery at York. The man she suckles is her father who is in jail, but i cannot remember the painting or the artist names.

Could it be Roman Charity by Rubens?

[hijack] Can I just mention that while it’s a beautiful sentiment, both of those paintings display extremely poor latch-on and would hurt the mother immensely? Obviously painted by men with little or no experience watching women and babies breast feed. [/hijack]

Like the Rubens painting that Fretful Porpentine mentioned, the painting that you saw was almost certainly a depiction of Caritas Romana, a fairly common subject in European painting. It comes from a story by Valerius Maximus about Cimon and his daughter Pero, who nourished him in prison with her own breastmilk.

These are just a few examples (I know I’ve seen several others):






I love that this is an entire subgenre of classical art. My favorites are the ones that, apparently trying to appear less salacious, have the charitable woman lactating into a man’s mouth from a distance of several feet.

What he said. There are acres of "ROman Charity’ paintings in Madrid at Del Prado.

Miller, that reminds me of depictions of “The Lactation of St. Bernard,” in which the saint receives a shot of breastmilk from the Virgin Mary (actually, a statue of her that’s come to life) across the room (as seen in this painting by Alonso Cano).

I saw something awfully similar to that last one at the San Diego Museum of Art last year, but it was a saint who was sort of lying down and the action was described as nursing.

Thanks, Skopo. That’s just the painting I was thinking of. I couldn’t remember the name, and I couldn’t think of a way to Google it without getting fifty bazillion porn links.

It actually seems more gross to me than anything. Especially the long distance one, for some reason.

That’s freakin’ wild!!!

It’s not bad, but there’s another, even better version by a different Spanish artist whose name, I’m ashamed to say, has escaped me. A Baroque painter, but not Velazquez or Murillo or Ribalta… though very much in the style of Ribalta. I saw it at the Prado (Spanish artists seem to have a thing for lactating breasts) last Christmas and was astonished by its intense realism.

You’d be surprised at what you’ll find when you google for “lactation” and “St. Bernard.”

I was thinking AH HA! when I clicked on this one…hehehe

I immediately thought of Carravagio’s painting as well. Those Italians! :smiley: