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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