About this artwork

In 1885, when Rodin made this sculpture, he was demonstrating a renewed interest in the theme of maternity. Rodin had little contact with his first son (born 1866) by his long term mistress Rose Beuret. When he came to make this sculpture, he was in the full throes of a love affair with the young artist Camille Claudel. It has been plausibly suggested that she bore Rodin two children, which may account for his interest in the mother and child subject at this time. Rodin often produced a number of variations on a particular theme, and the figures in this work can be found in his other sculptures of the same period. This sculpture was bought from the artist’s studio around 1906 by Mrs Craig Sellar and was inherited by her son-in-law Sir Alexander Maitland, who bequeathed it to this gallery.

Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin

Despite difficult beginnings and the repeated rejection of his work by the Paris Salon, Rodin persevered to become one of the most famous sculptors in history. At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, he left Paris for Brussels, but it was a trip to Italy in 1876 that proved to be seminal for Rodin’s life and art. In Italy, he studied the sculptures of antiquity, and the work of the Renaissance masters Donatello and Michelangelo. Just a year after this trip, Rodin’s first work was accepted at the Salon. Having finally received the academic recognition he sought, he continued to produce work that sparked controversy. Rodin was awarded a number of prestigious private and public commissions, including his famous ‘Gates of Hell’. He is also famous for his smaller, intimate portraits and nude studies.