Mother and Son - A painting by Robert Duncan

Soft light filters through a net curtain, and on the broad window ledge is a large, empty once-fired, pottery bowl. The room looks spacious and airy and the walls are bare.

A dark-haired woman stands in front of the window, looking out, her eyes focused on something she sees in the distance. She has only just got out of bed, and the morning light is reflected off the white material of the long victorian nightgown she wears, its ribbon loosened at her neck. Her hair is not messy, but slightly disarranged, tendrils escaping from the band that she has tied it back in to sleep. She looks to be about thirty, and is attractive, but not beautiful.

In her arms, she holds a child dressed in one of those white all-in-one things, a baby of about six months, who smiles as he, too, looks at whatever has caught his mother's attention. Her lips rest against the child's wispy blond hair, and she may be murmuring something. A wedding-ring gleams on the hand that rests across the baby's stomach.

There can be no doubt that the models for the painting are the artist's family. It is completely serene, and peaceful, simple and uncluttered, and simultaneously distant and incredibly intimate. Though the mother is looking at something beyond the child, her love is evident in the easy, practiced way she holds him, and in the obvious contentment on the baby's face.

It is the most beautiful picture I have ever seen.

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