Project Description

Medardo Rosso (Turin 1858 – Milan 1928), Sick Child (Enfant malade)

Wax sculpture cm 25,2 x 23 x 18, made probably after 1913. Inscriptions on the lower back: “A Tilde Favai” and “A Tilde_Milano”.

Authentication released by the Medardo Rosso archive, written by Paola Mola in January 2007, and historical-artistic report prepared by MariaStella Margozzi, Andreina Draghi and Roberto Cereghino contextual to the notification of export ban from Italy, released in July 2008.

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Medardo Rosso. Catalogo ragionato della scultura, curated by Paola Mola and Fabio Vittucci, Skira 2009, p. 357, n. III.18

”Like painting, sculpture also has the possibility of vibrating in a thousand lines of lines to come to life thanks to the shaking of shadows and lights, more or less violent, of mysteriously imprisoning themselves in warm and cold colors, although the matter let it be monochrome”. Thus wrote Medardo Rosso, a great master of the past, known for his cosmopolitan vocation (he stayed for a long time in Paris, working side by side with Degas and Rodin and exhibited in London, Vienna, and at the Universal Exhibition of 1889) and for his attention to the world of childhood.

One kind of work in which Medardo Rosso excels is just his portraits of children. Thus wrote Ardengo Soffici: “No sculptor, I believe, after the incomparable Donatello, has understood and cordially expressed the features and spirit of that immature age”. The work presented here is part of the corpus of children’s heads that Rosso was able to model during his career. In particular, this wax is dedicated to Tilde Favai, sister of the Venetian painter Gennaro Favai (1879-1958), friend of the sculptor. With Tilde Favai (twice this name is engraved on wax) Rosso tied a correspondence starting in 1913, so it is conceivable that the work dates back at least to this date or a few years later.

Medardo Rosso

The theme of the sick child has been included in his repertoire by Rosso since 1889, when he was admitted to the Laborisiére hospital in Paris. “Enfant malade” or “enfant mourant” is, in fact, entitled the head that Rosso exhibited in 1893 at the Salon de Peinture, Sculpture, Dessin in Paris (work recalled by G. Lista, “Medardo Rosso. Sculpture and photography”, Milan 2003, p. 91) and then in 1910 in Florence and in Rome in 1911 on the occasion of the International Exhibition. Together with “Child who laugh” (1889), the sick child is remembered by Rosso as a work in which “the material is still too much heard” (interview by Rosso of July 1923 in «La Stampa», reported in J. De Sanna, “Medardo Rosso or the creation of modern space”, Milan 1985, p. 185. In the collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome there is a late bronze of the same subject acquired on the occasion of the donation to the State by his son Francesco in 1931, decidedly inferior in the realization. However, there are other examples of the “Sick Child”, of which another bronze in the Gallery of Modern Art in Milan, some plaster casts at the Barzio Museum, some waxworks including that of the Barzio Museum and that of the Vatican Museums. However, also in consideration of the excellent workmanship of the work and its state of preservation, this one is considered very remarkable, useful for adding an important piece to the artistic production of the Piedmontese sculptor.