29 January 2016
Our work of the week is Maternity (1913) by the French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, depicting a mother embracing her child. This work is currently on show in Beauty & Balance at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The original was carved in marble. This is one of seven casts made from the original by Jim Ede. Kettle’s Yard owns two of these casts. Gaudier-Brzeska approached the subject of maternity again in another sculpture he made in 1914, this time depicting three figures instead of two. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska enlisted in the French army at the start of World War One. During his time in the trenches he still managed to satisfy his creative urges by making small sculptures using soft stone and a penknife. He even managed to return to the theme of mother and child, one final time, by carving a small ‘maternity’ from the butt of a stolen rifle.