"Mother and Child," Alessandro Mastro-Valerio (1945)
Mother and Child
Alessandro Mastro-Valerio’s print Mother and Child takes us to a grassy plain, an open field extending horizontally with mountains in the background. This peaceful and idyllic landscape serves as a setting for a nude female figure who lovingly protects and embraces her infant child. The lines tracing the woman's body resemble the undulating shapes of the mountains in the distance, while the blanket where she is lying appears almost like an extension of the thriving wheat field behind her. Presenting motherhood as a symbol of universal beauty and fertility, this print establishes a parallel between breastfeeding and farming as both acts of care and love that connects humans to nature. Printed by the Chicago Society of Etchers, this work shows the artist applied etching and mezzotint techniques to this woodcut print by using thin lines and crosshatching. Best known for his depictions of female nudes, Mastro-Valerio represented the beauty and grace of the female body through an economy of form and color, following the reductive technique that had been popularized with the spreading of Modernism. Born in Sannicandro Garganico, Italy, Mastro-Valerio was educated at the Salvador Rose Institute in Naples, Italy (1906-1912). In 1913, he emigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago, where he established a portrait studio.