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Medardo Rosso
Ecce Puer (Portrait d’Alfred Mond; Impression d’enfant; Enfant Mond)

1906
Chalk, 52 x 42,5 x 38,5 cm

This sculpture is part of an important collection of works by Medardo Rosso, the Italian sculptor who more than any other pushed the boundaries of the art of his day and, with extraordinary foresight, pioneered modern techniques and forms of expression. The Civiche Raccolte d’Arte received the first nine works in 1953 as a donation from the artist’s son Francesco, and this collection was expanded by others, through a successful purchasing policy by the City of Milan.
The bust is the original model of the last subject created by Rosso, who from 1906 until his death reformulated his previous works, with further sculptural replicas and experiments with photography. The theme, which he always loved, is that of childhood, though in this case it becomes almost abstract as an image, and this is emphasized by the generic nature of the title. We are no longer facing a real child (the young Alfred William Mond, son of the English patrons of whom Rosso made portraits while in London), but the very essence of childhood, incarnated in plaster, a material that also gives the impression that it is in an auroral state. Plaster later gave way to a malleable, milky wax, congealing into an intentionally uncertain, precarious form, with the features only barely outlined, almost as though wishing to capture a nascent state of art, in a new dawn of representation.