Where Are the Fathers???

In anticipation of Father’s Day we searched for paintings of fathers and their children, we came up with relatively few. A search of 1,262 images in the National Gallery of Art’s data base for artworks tagged father, there were several religious works, several family portraits, or artists’ paintings of their fathers, but surprisingly, this one the only secular painting of a father and child together that appeared.

large      Jonathan Budington, Father and Son, 1800

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

This absence of paintings duplicated an experience Susan had a few years ago when she was trying to put together an album of memorable pictures of father and son together. Although they had hundreds of photographs, she discovered that there were relatively few of the dynamic duo. Dad always seemed to be behind the camera recording the activities that he and his son did together. It reminded us of the famous John Singer Sargent painting of the Daughters of Mr. Edward Darby Boit, 1882 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where we see the daughters, but not their father. Given the title, why Mr. Boit is not included remains a bit of a mystery.

Sargent, John Singer - The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882 MFA Boston

John Singer Sargent, The Daughters of Mr. Edward Darby Boit, 1882 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

It’s a bit puzzling why there are so many paintings of mothers and their children, and not fathers. One artist is working at rectifying that. David Hilliard has photographed fathers in creative ways. He sometimes focuses on just his father, but also records their time together.

Hilliard, David - My Father's Shirt 1994

David Hilliard, My Father’s Shirt, 1994   You can see many more of his photographs at http://www.davidhilliard.com/info_pages/about.html

The panoramic form of his photographs, which are made up of sequential panels, give a fresh feeling to things that might otherwise seem ordinary.  On his website, he states:  I continually aspire to represent the spaces we inhabit, relationships we create, and the objects with which we surround ourselves. I hope the messages the photographs deliver speak to the personal as well as the universal experience. I find the enduring power and the sheer ability of a photograph to express a thought, a moment, or an idea, to be the most powerful expression of myself, both as an artist, and as an individual.”

Hilliard, David - Hug, 2008 David Hilliard, Hug, 2008

Put your creativity to work. Maybe your photographs could be panoramas of things your father loves to do, or things that are symbols of the kind of man he is. What images can you piece together that tell the way you feel about your father? If you are a father, maybe you want to piece together something that tells what it’s like to be a father or grandfather.

Whatever you do, we hope that you can be with the people you love on Father’s Day.   Take time to record some memories of the times you share together.  Make sure your fathers and grandfather are represented in your treasured family photographs.

chris and eric

Cheers, and Happy Father’s Day!

Susan and Mary


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