Boy blowing bubbles, by Frans van Mieris, and happy Mother’s Day!

It is always a pleasure to look for illustrations for Mother’s Day. This year I hesitated between Rubens, with his portraits of his young wife, Helene Fourment, and their children, and Renoir. But it is this Boy blowing bubbles, by the Dutch painter Frans van Mieris, that caught my attention.

The meaning of the painting seems, at first glance, straightforward enough: a little boy is engrossed by his soap bubbles, and his amused mother smiles at us from the background, creating a feeling of warmth and intimacy. But there is more. Note how prominent the date is (1663, written in Roman numerals) and the snail crawling across it towards the  child. This is an allegory of the slow passage of time. Everything else in the painting points to the same theme. The frame of the window shows signs of age, the sunflower, like time, never stands still, and the bubbles themselves symbolize the transience of all we fashion. All this makes this quiet scene all the moving to me. A reminder to enjoy those precious moments while they last.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Frans van Mieris Boy blowing bubbles

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6 Comments to “Boy blowing bubbles, by Frans van Mieris, and happy Mother’s Day!”

  1. Catherine Delors says:

    Penny, of course parents want their children to grow up into fine adults. As for me, and I suspect I am not alone, I can’t look at a baby, toddler or little boy without deep nostalgia. It is not the passage of time I regret, but the wonderful closeness of the bond with a child. Now I have to wait until I become a grandmother…

  2. Penny says:

    I think the child is about the only character that does not look forlorn.
    Do parents really regret the passage of time? I thought the whole idea was to try to
    teach your values and hope they grow up to be responsible/ respectful adults,
    not mention take care of mom in old age, not that any of us are going to admit
    to growing old.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all.

  3. Catherine Delors says:

    Thank you, Gene, Felio and Jane! Indeed those wonderful moments pass by all too fast. One minute your kid is nestled in your arms, and next thing you know, he towers over you… :)

  4. Jane Odiwe says:

    What a beautiful painting. I know with my own children time has moved so quickly – one minute they are toddling around and the next they are all grown up. Treasure every minute.

  5. Felio Vasa says:

    A perfect painting for today. Beautiful.

  6. gene says:

    superbes commentaires…

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