Here's Lookin' At You, Kid!

Maud Humphrey (New York 1868-1940) was a successful American illustrator, who, among other things, created a “Maud Humphrey baby” for a national advertising campaign to promote Mellin’s Baby Food. One model for the baby was her son, Humphrey Bogart – yes, the Humphrey Bogart.

Maud Humphrey was born in Rochester, New York, to John Perkins Humphrey  and Frances V. Dewey Churchill and was raised among the Rochester elite. She was so proud of her blue bloodlines she insisted on using her maiden name as the signature on her art.

“Maud Humphrey painted angelic children nestling up to Madonna-like mothers in a series of successful books that began in the 1890s with The Bride’s Book,” wrote A.M Sperber and Eric Lax in Bogart. “Her own children, however, seemed little more than biological evidence that she had done her duty as a wife. They knew their place; it was with the servants, to whom they were shunted off in the routine manner of the day, always secondary to her art. In a way, the closest she came to her children was when she had them sit for her.”

Bogie was his mother’s favorite model, although he was not the original Maud Humphrey baby. “Her drawings depicted idealized children. And when her own child posed for her, he was removed from the realm of real person with real needs. It was as if in painting a picture of a perfect child, she made her own child, who was the subject, perfect, and therefore perfectly mothered.”

Maud was known as “‘Queen Maud’ or ‘Lady Maud,'” add Sperber and Lax. “Mercurial in mood, she was at times a pleasant grande dame paying youngsters the lavish rate of one dollar an hour to pose for her drawings, but at others a shrill, intimidating shrew whose scolding voice carried halfway across the lake.”

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