Sir Alfred Gilbert

Mother Teaching Child

1881

Artist
Sir Alfred Gilbert 1854–1934
Medium
Marble
Dimensions
Object: 1035 x 673 x 660 mm, 505kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Bequeathed by H.L. Doulton 1931
Reference
N04586

Not on display

Display caption

Mother Teaching Child is one of the few marble carvings Gilbert made in Rome, as he soon turned to modelling in clay to cast in bronze. He used his son Alfedo and his nurse as models. The group is partly based on an influential naturalistic sculpture of a mother and child made by the French sculptor Jules Dalou. Gilbert’s composition is also loosely based on Michelangelo and Raphael, linking past and present art. This sculpture was a private commission from Henry Doulton, owner of the Doulton Pottery, who visited Gilbert in Rome.

Gallery label, February 2010

Catalogue entry

N04586 MOTHER TEACHING CHILD 1881
 
Not inscribed.
White marble, 40 3/4×26 1/2×26 (103.5×67.5×66).
Bequeathed by Henry Lewis Doulton 1931.
Coll: Sir Henry Doulton (d. 1897); his son Henry Lewis Doulton.
Lit: Monkhouse in Magazine of Art, 1889, pp.1–5, repr.; M. H. Spielmann, British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-day, 1901, p.76, repr. p.77; McAllister, 1929, p.57, repr. pl.3; Cox, 1936, p.11; Bury, 1952, p.70.

This work was commissioned in Rome in 1881 by Sir Henry Doulton. McAllister (1929, at pl.3) dates the work 1879, but a manuscript biography of Sir Henry Doulton by Sir Edmund Gosse, in the possession of Desmond Eyles of Doulton & Co. Ltd, appears to be conclusive evidence for the later date. Spielmann says that the model for the mother was the artist's servant and that the child was the artist's second son Alfredo. The servant was also the model for the early ‘Study of a Head’ (repr. Bury, 1952, pl.3). Cox (1936, p.11) suggests that the marble group was made as a challenge to the ‘Mother of the Gracchi’ by Gilbert's old master, Cavelier.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I