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Ugolino, Torso of a Child (Ugolin, Torse d'un enfant)

European Art

This torso is a fragment from a group called Ugolino and His Sons that appears in The Gates of Hell. Ugolino was an Italian count imprisoned with his sons and grandchildren, who were all left to starve. Eventually driven mad by hunger, he devoured the flesh of his offspring. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, Ugolino suffered eternal damnation.

This figure is derived from one of Ugolino’s fallen sons in the larger group who reaches his arm up and across his crawling father’s back, trying to lift himself up. Even separated from this narrative, the torso effectively conveys despair. In its extreme simplification of form this sculpture anticipates the modernist work of Constantin Brancusi, who served briefly as a technician in Rodin’s workshop in 1907.
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES model date unknown; cast 1980
    DIMENSIONS 9 1/2 x 6 7/8 x 5 1/2 in. (24.1 x 17.5 x 14.0 cm)
    MARKINGS Lower edge, proper left thigh: "E. GODARD Fondr." Back, underside of truncation: "© by MUSEE RODIN 1980"
    SIGNATURE Underside, proper right leg: "A. Rodin"
    INSCRIPTIONS Underside, proper right leg: "No 2"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    EDITION Edition: 2/12
    CREDIT LINE Gift of B. Gerald Cantor Collection
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