We Got an Art Historian to Assess Beyoncé's Baby Instagram Posts

What the highly-stylized first photo of the twins really *means*.
July 14, 2017, 11:56am
Imagen vía el Instagram de Beyoncé

I honestly feel like at this point, Beyoncé is a fertility goddess who uses Instagram to hammer the point home to her 100 million or so followers. Her official baby announcement from early Friday morning (as opposed to her dad's one), where she introduced one-month-olds Sir and Rumi Carter to the world, seems to prove this even further.

Following on from her hyper-stylized pregnancy announcement, the image, posted to Instagram, sees Beyoncé sheathed in roses and tulle, cradling both babies. And though it's a very #aesthetic image that has had your TL "yaaaaas"-ing and "MOM"-ing since it emerged, we also figured that it was high time we heard about it from someone who wasn't a delighted fan in the comments. So, we pulled in a favor with King's College London Art History PhD candidate Ellie Jones, to find out about the nitty gritty of both of Bey's baby announcements. Over to her, because to be real I don't know shit about this stuff:

The Pregnancy Announcement

"Beginning in the twentieth century, motherhood and pregnancy became powerful tools for women artists who wanted to represent themselves. From Frida Kahlo's paintings to Deana Lawson's recent photography, women use pregnancy and motherhood in their work to express the complexities of their experiences—and to assert their authoritative vision. Beyoncé is no different.

"So—the pregnancy announcement. This image, like the birth announcement, is laced with art historical allusions. Haloed by a wreath of flowers, Beyoncé is Madonna (not that Madonna)—the Virgin Mary—the most frequently depicted mother in Western art. Mary is often presented in blue, symbolizing virtue, an association Beyoncé makes through her satin sky-blue underwear. As she cradles her protruding belly, her pose is reminiscent of Paula Modersohn-Becker's self-portrait from 1906, "Self Portrait on Her Sixth Wedding Anniversary." Completed at a time of increased turbulence in Modersohn-Becker's marriage—you can draw your own comparisonsthe image is an exercise in determined self-assuredness. Beyoncé's direct gaze, like Modersohn-Becker's, is hard to decode, and she exudes composure to the point of restraint."

The Birth Announcement

"When the pregnancy photo was first released, people across the globe stroked their chins, nodded, and said "Hmm, how Botticelli". Well, I am here to do exactly that, all over again. Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus is a ubiquitous image, and artists centuries over have used it as a touchstone for representations of the female nude.

"In the 15th-century painting, the goddess of love stands, or rather floats, at its centre, with winds gently scattering the landscape with flowers. Beyonce's birth announcement photograph directly quotes from Botticelli's painting, her pose a near-mirror image of Venus' famous stance. Where Venus places an arm across her breast, Beyoncé serenely holds her two new-born babies, emulating the same miraculous floating sensation found in Botticelli's rendition.

"Looking at the two images together, from pregnancy to birth, and from kneeling to standing, Beyoncé emerges as a pure beacon of strength, and there is a clear emphasis on progression."

Thanks Ellie!

It's no surprise that Beyoncé, who has, after all, named one of her babies after a Persian poet, would take the artistic side of her baby announcements extremely seriously and do the absolute most with them, considering all of the referential work that went into Lemonadein particular. In my opinion, we should probably just take these thoughtful artistic choices as further proof that as well as being probably the greatest living performer, Beyoncé also loves a good stroll around a museum, just like your aunt with her Tate membership. Lovely.

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