Tuscan sculptor Adriano Cecioni (1836-1886) once explained he “was not interested in creating ‘a beautiful Mother’, but ‘the Mother’”. He was replying to the critics who had pointed out the lack of womanly charms in his 1880 work, which he presented in a plaster cast version at that year’s Fine Arts National Expo, held in Turin.
As an artist, Cecioni had very realistic views, seeing beauty in things and facts as they are, with no need for anyone to obfuscate, alter, or idealize the truth.
When, after the presentation in Turin, nobody came forward to fund the transformation of his model into marble, poet Giosuè Carducci encouraged the Ministry of Public Education to take matters into its own hands.
Carducci also dedicated a poem from his “Barbarian Odes” to Cecioni’s work:
Strong mother now, she dandles her little one. / Strong like herself: full fed from her naked breasts / She dandles him on high, and sweetly / Prattles to him.
Finally, the marble sculpture was made between 1884 and 1886. Today it is displayed in Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art.