The Beloved mother is one such portrait presented by Duncan. Here a family parlor is presented. The loving mother is surrounded by children. There are many children surrounding the mother and motherhood as a felicity is presented here. The husband is also present as so is a nanny for the children. The idea that is presented here is that of enjoying motherhood and fatherhood and a blissful union. A virtue is being extolled here, the virtue is nothing new, it is something that is advocated for as being blissful. There are many children in the portrait; however they don’t have a voice in the portrait. Duncan cites Diderot as having said of this painting that “It says to all men of feeling and sensibility: ‘Keep your family comfortable; give [your wife] as many children as you can and be assured of being happy at home’. Children in essence are presented as the needs for a happy family. There are meaning created for the father as Diderot presents, there are meanings created for the mother who is said to be happy when surrounded by her many children, but the picture lacks to present a context of discussion for the child. The child is voiceless.
Similarly consider the picture above. Here it is the representation of the household of a family. There are mother and father sitting down at the table, a dog at their feet. There are children standing around them, and some sitting down, the whole representation is quite somber. The very picture is that of a family group. However, even with the children being the majority of numbers seen in this picture, the dominant voice is that of the father. The old father and the wife who are seated on the right of the picture are the dominant elements. There are daughters, son-in-law’s or sons, and other children. Yet the voice is that of a father who probably has the most will and power in the family. In the first picture where the children were babies, here the children are slightly older. It could be argued in the first picture that the children were babies and hence lack a voice. However here in the second picture although the children are of various age groups, they are only considered as part of a group and still lack the individual context of voice. The paining seemingly revolves on the dominant voice of the husband/ father figure ignoring the children.