So how much is your mother worth?
So how much is your mother worth? Not that she was anybody’s mother, the subject in Picasso’s painting “Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur.” Turns out she was the renown painter’s mistress—which hardly makes her an appropriate theme for Mother’s Day. And yet the buzz throughout the art world this week has been all about the auction price this oil canvas of Picasso’s actually fetched on Tuesday night. Reputed to have been painted by Picasso in just one day back in 1964, this 5 feet by 4 feet painting put up for auction at Christie’s auction house lasted a full 8 minutes and six seconds on the auctioneer’s block. In the end six bidders drove the price through the ceiling, until it soared to a new world record for any auctioned piece of art. How much did Picasso’s woman go for? A feverish $106.5 million. Not bad for a day’s work, is it?
If only our beloved mothers could have enjoyed the luxury of just a day’s work. The nation pauses this weekend to remember these devoted women we dearly love—mothers who never ended up on a Christie’s auction house canvas—and yet whose self-sacrificing love for the likes of you and me is a portrait of infinitely greater worth than any Picasso masterpiece. For truth be known, when the colors of our mothers were splashed across the canvases of our own childhoods and teen age years, how could anyone possibly affix any price at all to their devotion and love?
No wonder the scene of that shining moment was etched onto the canvas of Calvary, never to be effaced—when from the cross the God of the universe gazed down through his own tortured pain onto the face of the woman who had birthed him and bathed him, loved him and caressed him, taught him and trained him, who had fiercely held him in her heart when it seemed that all the world rejected him. No wonder his dying thoughts—not unlike young soldiers on many a forgotten battlefield whose final cries, history records, were for their mothers—no wonder Jesus whispered to his mother, when prayers to his Father were choked and stifled. The Son of God had but one mother. And to her his undying love was pledged.
This Mother’s Day as you thank God for your own mother and recite to her your love again and again, ponder this recollection of William Cowper, “On Receipt of My Mother’s Picture”:
Oh that those lips had language! Life has pass’d
With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
Those lips are thine—thy own sweet smiles I see,
The same that oft in childhood solaced me;
Voice only fails, else, how distinct they say,
“Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!”
The meek intelligence of those dear eyes
(Blest be the art that can immortalize,
The art that baffles time’s tyrannic claim
To quench it) here shines on me still the same.
I love you, Mother.