The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Mother and Child
  • Attributed to Barthélemy Prieur (c. 1536 - 1611)
  • Mother and Child
  • Paris, France
  • c. 1600
  • Group
  • Copper alloy, lost-wax cast. Ebonised wood plinth.
  • Statuette, Height: 14.6 cm
    Plinth, Height: 3.4 cm
  • S129
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This lively and charming little bronze of a mother holding her child as she helps him urinate belongs to a group of small-scale genre figures previously thought to be the work of a Flemish artist influenced by Italian sculpture, and now attributed to the French sculptor Barthélemy Prieur (see also S128). The contrast between the mannerist elegance of the long-limbed female figure and the vivacious child who seems to want to wriggle out of his mother’s hold, is particularly captivating despite the humble subject.

    The attribution is based on comparison with known works by this artist, particularly the funerary monument of Anne de Montmorency in Paris (1570-1580s), for the facial features and body type of the woman, and with the geniuses on the cenotaph of Dominique de Vic (now Louvre) for the round face, curved forehead and thick, curly hair of the little boy. Very similar facial features also appear on a figurine of a young boy fishing, also in our Collection (S131).

    Prieur was a gifted bronze sculptor and his posthumous inventory lists a series of small-scale bronze statuettes of men and women and even animals, as well as numerous functional objects in the classicising style.

    Few other casts are known of this model, which was one of numerous subjects now attributed to Prieur listed in the inventory of royal garden designer André Le Notre in 1700. The finish and detail of our cast are of very high quality, also compared to most other surviving examples, and contribute to elevate the humble subject.