Gathering wild food was an essential part of rural life for many Victorians. Berries, nuts and mushrooms were all welcome supplements to poor diets and children were sent out to gather them. The mother, in this painting, is portrayed as the strong maternal provider. The role of women as mothers and wives was central to Victorian ideals. Girls were expected to conform to this role model of idealised motherhood and the negative image of the ‘bad mother’ or ‘fallen woman’ were other popular subjects in Victorian art. Her medieval-style dress shows the influenc of the Pre-Raphaelite movement on fashions of the time.