Fecundity in Art

1 April, 2019


Written by Vincent Fauveau, Montpellier, France, former UNFPA adviser for maternal health and rights at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)




“My professional life has been mostly spent in the area of international maternal and reproductive health, trying to prevent complications of pregnancy and childbirth, facilitate conception for women who wished to conceive, and avoid pregnancy for those who did not wish to have a child. During this time, I have wandered through local markets in countries across the globe and rummaged through heaps of artefacts, visited scores of museums, opened thousands of books, met many artists and  many anthropologists. I have accumulated an incredible collection of objects, sculptures, engravings, drawings and photographs related to human fecundity. I have also talked to maternal health workers (mostly midwives), traditional and modern doctors, local birth attendants and village women, in order to gather their knowledge and stories about pregnancy and birth, and also to examine these questions: How is human fecundity represented now? How is it represented elsewhere? And how was it represented in the past?


The world over, women hope to conceive, then wait during pregnancy before finally giving birth. They experience anxiety at all these stages. Motherhood, however, is beautiful. But if it is, why are there so few representations of this beauty in the arts? There are countless images of mothers holding a child or breastfeeding, but comparatively few images of expectant mothers, let alone women giving birth. Yet, with a little effort, such representations can be found. That’s what I did. Now I would like to share this extraordinary variety in artistic expression with future mothers, their partners, their families,  maternal health professionals, art lovers and the general public.

Hence this book “Fecundity”. No statistics, no science, no fiction, just sharing. A universal subject

The book, size 8,5×11″, with a foreword by Prof. René Frydman, has 240 pages, with short texts in French and English, and a rich iconography prepared by an artist photographer.

It is dedicated to all midwives of the world, and can be sent FREE of CHARGE to midwives working in developing countries.

The book is composed of four parts:

HOPING, with objects and stories from prehistoric times until now, used to call for fertility;

EXPECTING, with objects depicting pregnancy in all regions and countries of the world;

GIVING BIRTH, with surprising images of childbirth everywhere; and

As an aside, CONTEMPLATING CONTEMPORARY ART, with a survey of contemporary artists having represented pregnancy and birth, including in the fields of modern art, photography and fantasy.

To receive the book:

Subscription prices are available online.

A portion of the benefits of this sale will be sent to an NGO working to save mothers in the world.