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This extraordinary painting is first recorded being carried under the arm of 'a man' who was walking along the street in Stockholm in about 1919. Another man made an offer for it on the spot, and via another intermediary it was sold to Henry S. Wellcome in 1929. It is painted in oil paints on paper laid down on wood, and it has on the back an inscription 'Åbo 1800', presumably meaning that it was painted in the small town of Åbo in Sweden (later Turku in Finland) in 1800. No Swedish or Finnish artist is known to have painted pictures resembling this one. It shows the proud father on the left, the woman giving birth in the centre, and on the right a caricature of a midwife or wise-woman. The standing figure pouring water into a bowl may be a personification of Hygiene, as a similar figure appears on a Wedgwood plaque of the goddess Hygieia.
A Mother Giving Birth to a Baby
oil on paper laid down on wood
H 44.1 x W 56.6 cm
purchased by Henry S. Wellcome, c.1900–1936