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John Flaxman (1755 - 1826), sculptor
Model for the group, ‘Maternal tenderness’, on the marble monument to Lady Fitzharris in Christ Church Priory, Dorset
Museum number: MRR11
‘Maternal Tenderness’ is the plaster model for the monument to to Lady Fitzharris and her children in Christ Church Priory, Hampshire (1817). There are other models for the same monument at University College. This is one of Flaxman’s few free-standing monuments. It was commissioned by Viscount Fitzharris after his wife’s death in September 1815. Flaxman began work on the monument in 1816 and it was completed the next year. With Lady Fitzharris are her sons, James, Edward and Charles; several sketches of the boys made by Flaxman from life survive. Flaxman’s natural treatment of figures was unusual at the time except in the work of Banks (see M44) and his work inspired many later sculptors, notably Chantry (see M391). Flaxman may well have seen a Renaissance original for this monument in the mother and child groups of Michelangelo, Raphael and Correggio, on which he laid great stress in his lectures. Sir Thomas Lawrence, in his 1826 Discourse paying tribute to Flaxman mentioned particularly ‘the inimitable groups of childhood and maternal affection’.
Helen Dorey ‘Soane and Flaxman’ in Flaxman: Master of the Purest Line, Exhibition Catalogue, Sir John Soane’s Museum 2003
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