Until the 20th C, many women spent most of their adult years pregnant, but pregnancies are seldom apparent in surviving portraits. Portraying Pregnancy brings together images of women – mainly British – who were depicted at a time when they were pregnant (whether visibly so or not). Through paintings, prints, photographs, objects and clothing from the 15th C to the present day, you can discover the different ways in which pregnancy was, or was not, represented. How shifting social attitudes impacted on depictions of pregnant women; the possibility of death in childbirth and the tensions that brought; and how more recent images, which often reflect increased female agency and empowerment, still remain highly charged.
This exhibition brings together, for the first time, rare examples of these portraits providing an exceptional opportunity to situate contemporary issues of women’s identity, emotion, empowerment and autonomy in a 500-year context.