The Joy of Museums

Finding Meaning in Art & History

Young Mother in the Grotto

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“Young Mother in the Grotto” was modelled by Auguste Rodin in 1885 and the plaster sculpture was exhibited under the title “Woman and Love”. Several bronze and marble versions of it were made during Rodin’s lifetime. The woman and child theme was evident in Rodin’s early body of work during the mid-1880’s.

This sculpture represents maternal love in a mythological theme, the baby and the young woman was both sentimental and spiritual. In the latter periods of his career, the theme of maternal love is much less prevalent in Rodin’s work as compared to the the theme of love between man and woman.

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The woman, crouching in a grotto and shielding her child from the elements, embodies maternal love and protection. The contrasting textures of the smooth figures against the rough grotto walls highlight the way that human forms can magically emerge from the stone, during the masters’ sculpturing process, as Rodin learnt from studying Michelangelo’s work.

Like many of Rodin’s other works, the “Young Mother in a Grotto” is related to a mother and child pair found on the left panel of the “Gates of Hell”.

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                     Young Mother in the Grotto
  • Year:                     Modelled in clay 1885;
    •                      Carved in marble 1891 by Jean Escoula (French, 1851 – 1911)
  • Place of Origin:   France
  • Material:              Marble
  • Dimensions:        H. 36 cm ; W. 28.2 cm ; D. 24 cm
  • Museum:              Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Artist Essential Facts:

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“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Auguste Rodin

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Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons