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Mother and son II

This dramatic composition, one of Lipchitz’s most pathos-charged works, was created by the artist just after his arrival in New York, where he had escaped in 1941 because of his Jewish origins from a France occupied by the German troops. The mutilated woman’s desperate gesture of  appeal, her vulnerable nakedness, with her son clasped to her neck, is a denunciation of the horrors of the Second World War. The sculpture is part of the section on the Lipchitz donation in the large third-floor room of the palazzo.

Mother and Child II is one of Lipchitz’s most intense artworks, the first one made by the artist on his arrival in New York. The sculpture shows a dramatic naked woman without legs or hands, her son clasped to her neck, her head raised in a desperate cry, her arms stretched up to the heavens. In the artist’s intention, she recalls the tragic experience of the Second World War. The long making of this work is shown by the existence of a first drawing going back to the end of the 1930s, which was inspired, the artist himself reported, to an episode which happened to him on a rainy night in a Moscow railway station in 1935. A legless beggar woman on a cart was singing a melancholy song, her long hair hanging loose and her arms stretched out. “I was terribly moved by this image, but I understood only after several years that, when I made the Mother and Son, I was reproducing that image, which had emerged from my subconscious”. 

The artwork here on display is a plaster model with shellac: the first bronze sculpture of Mother and Child was purchased in 1942 by Edgar Kauffmann, to place it in his House on the Waterfall in Pennsylvania, the famous building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Other versions of Mother and Child II are housed at the MoMA in New York, the Baltimore Museum of Art-Sculpture Garden, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.