Father’s Day is coming up this Sunday, so I thought it would be fun to focus today’s Art Wednesday on fatherhood, with a series of related paintings and literary quotes. We’ll start with this one by Norman Rockwell—one of my favorites of his. Notice how the father looks at the tracks that will carry his son away as the son scans the rails in the other direction waiting to catch a glimpse of the train that will carry him away. I could go on and on about this painting—maybe in another Art Wednesday.
Rockwell, Breaking Home Ties, 1954 (American)
Now, let me offer some more paintings focused on fatherhood from around the world, along with a few bits of wisdom from the worlds of literature and Scripture. Enjoy.
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain
Picasso, Fatherhood, 1971 (Spanish)
“She did not stand alone, but what stood behind her, the most potent moral force in her life, was the love of her father.” – Harper Lee
Morisot, Eugene Manet and His Daughter in the Garden, 1883 (French)
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom.”
– Umberto Eco
Tanner, The Thankful Poor, 1894 (African American)
“I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers…” – Malachi 4:5-6
Rembrandt, Return of the Prodigal Son, 1669 (Dutch)
“Why do men like me want sons? It must be because they hope in their poor beaten souls that these new men will do things they were not strong enough nor wise enough nor brave enough to do.” – John Steinbeck
La Tour, Joseph the Carpenter, 1642 (French Baroque)
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” – Proverbs 3:11-12
Edgar Degas, Degas’ Father Listening to Lorenzo Pagans, 1869 (French)
“Any father…must finally give his child up to the wilderness and trust to the providence of God… Great faith is required to give the child up, trusting God to honor the parents’ love for him.” – Marilynne Robinson
Van Gogh, First Steps (After Millet), 1890 (Dutch)
This will be my second Father’s Day without my dad. He was a good and decent man who shaped my life in more ways than I can begin to describe. I love him and miss him.
Xie Dongming, Father and Son, 2010 (Chinese)