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Thornycroft carved much of this work himself, relying less than usual on assistants. He wrote at the time, ‘for months I’ve been carving at the marble, the loveliest one my chisel ever cut’. He worked from a full-size model which he made first in clay and then cast in plaster.

The statue was a great success when exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1916. The subject of mother and daughter was acceptable while opening up the new possibilities of touch and physical engagement in sculpture. The distracted look of the woman may also reflect the loss of life during the 1914–18 war.

August 2004