Charity, also called Maternity [La Charité, dit aussi Maternité] by Aimé-Jules Dalou (1897-1902). Signed and dated 1879. Bronze with a dark brown patination. Height: 13½ inches (34.5 cm). Signed “DALOU” and inset with Hebrard foundry seal. Robert Bowman, London. Photograph by Julian Jans. Another view. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Commentary by Robert Bowman

In 1877 the Broad Street Ward of the City of London commissioned Dalou to design a statue to adorn the fountain behind the Royal Stock Exchange in London. The work was erected in marble and replaced with a bronze cast in 1897.

The present model is a sketch for the final monument. Dalou had been exploring the maternal theme throughout the 1870s, much to the delight of his English patrons, and had produced a number of models of both peasant and bourgeois nursing mothers. Here the modelling is loose and impressionistic, but the composition faithfully echoes the finished monument, with the young mother staring lovingly down towards her infant whilst breastfeeding her baby.

Dalou made multiple studies for the work, developing these from a group of the Madonna and Child with the infant St. John which he later destroyed. In an earlier configuration, now in the collection of The Victoria and Albert Museum, Dalou sculpted the young child with his arms stretched upwards towards his mother. In another version he experimented with including a further child at the mothers feet.

Related Material: representations of motherhood by other sculptors

Robert Bowman has most generously given permission to use in the Victorian Web information, images, and text from his catalogues. The copyright on text and images from these catalogues remains, of course, with him. Readers should consult the website of the Robert Bowman Gallery to obtain information about recent exhibitions and to order catalogues. [GPL]

Bibliography

Aimé-Jules Dalou (1897-1902). Online exhibition catalogue. London: Bowman Sculpture, 2014. Web. 29 November 2014.


Last modified 29 November 2014