Maternity by Aline Szold in The Yellow Book Vol. 12

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Portrait of a woman with her hair tied back, sitting in a chair cradling and looking down at a baby in her arms
Maternity, Aline Szold (1897)


This image, titled “Maternity,” is by Aline Szold. It appears in The Yellow Book Vol. 12 on page 283. This piece appears as the first artwork in a sequence of three all by Szold. There is significantly less artwork in comparison to text that appears in this volume of The Yellow Book. As such, we can assume that the artwork that does appear is carefully chosen. This image, in particular, depicts a woman cradling a child. We assume, from the title, that the child is hers. The woman is also looking at the child, and so the gaze of the portrait is redirected to the child in her arms. The positioning of the mother and child is interesting. It appears that the woman does have some sort of shirt to cover herself, however, we can see that the child is being held in such a way that insinuates breastfeeding. As such, there is a link between life and the female sex. The image may serve as a reminder that the emergence of life and women are intimately linked. This particular volume of The Yellow Book also features many female artists and writers. Ethel Reed, another female artist and contributor to this volume, has her artwork prominently featured the front cover.

It is important to note that all of the artists’ works are grouped together. For instance, all of Patten Wilson’s and Charles Pears’ artwork also follow in sequence one after another. From this observation, we can assume that there is not necessarily a correlation between the images that Szold contributed to this volume. However, it is nonetheless interesting to look at them in conjunction with one another. Without having to see the other two artworks, their titles appear to suggest a sequence from life to death. The first, “Maternity,” then moves to the second, “Grief,” and finally the third, “A Study of Trees.” The final artwork takes us back to our roots in nature and could allude to a final resting place.

The medium used to create “Maternity” looks as if Szold worked with pencil and the artwork was reproduced using halftone engraving. I say this because the work is heavily shaded and utilizes several tones of grey instead of more contrasting black and white linework.

Sabrina Pavelic

Szold, Aline. Three Pictures | I. Maternity. The Yellow Book 12 (January 1897): 283. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University. Web. [Sept. 28].

Szold, Aline