When viewing paintings I’ve always found myself drawn to works which depict people occupying a domestic setting. It’s always interesting to observe folks interacting with each other at home, focused on an activity without outside distractions. ‘The First Born’ by English painter Frederick William Elwell is a great example of what I find most captivating about these scenes. Our painting shows a couple sharing a tender moment together as they admire their child, perhaps during the early morning before the husband, dressed in a casual suit, heads out for work while the wife stays home with the new little one. The body language of both figures expresses their care and affection for the baby, and the positioning of the man’s legs, one casually tucked under the other as if he’d just then sat down to say goodbye his wife and baby, gives the work a very natural, spontaneous feel.
The title references the "first born," as opposed to a second or third, which for me gives this painting a special significance. Ready or not, these first-time parents are about to embark on a new plate of responsibilities, making many sacrifices along the way. In that respect I’m sure even viewers without children could identify with their situation, as life presents many changes one must adapt to. To me this work represents the joy of a new beginning and the challenges that await.
That aside, I really enjoy the play of soft light throughout the bedroom, creating gentle shadows which gently cast over the curtains and bed sheets. Details such as the homely mirror on the dresser, the ornamental foot board of the bed, and the paper found on the floor beside the sitting chair, all function to supply a unique identity to the space.
I hope you enjoyed this wonderful painting!