Mother and Child [Mère et Enfant]] by Aimé-Jules Dalou (1897-1902). Terracotta Height: 18 inches (46cm). Signed “DALOU.” Robert Bowman, London. Photograph by Julian Jans. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Commentary by Robert Bowman

Mère et Enfant is a rare hand modelled terracotta made in England during the 1870s. In 1874 Dalou had exhibited Hush a bye Baby at the Royal Academy in London. The work depicted a bourgeois mother and child in a rocking chair and provided the basis for the marble group The Rocking Chair which was made for the Duke of Westminster in 1875.

After the initial success of Hush a bye Baby, Dalou sculpted a number of mothers with their young children or babies, making small adjustments to the compositions each time. The closest known version to the present work is a patinated plaster modelled in 1894 and now in the collection of the Petit Palais. In this later version, the composition is reversed with the baby feeding from its mother’s right breast.

Mère et Enfant is a tour de force in the three diminutional rendering of material. The drapery of the mother’s clothing is expertly modelled, with the deep folds evoking the masterful marble carving of Lorenzo Bernini. The handling of the clasp around the woman’s neck is also exquisitely detailed and the hood appears weighty and thick, as if constructed from heavy fabric rather than clay.

Other works by Dalou depicting a mother and child

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]


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

Last modified 30 November 2014