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Motif from The Story of a Mother by Hans Christian Andersen

Niels Hansen Jacobsen, Niels Hansen1892

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst

SMK - Statens Museum for Kunst
Copenhagen, Denmark

In a dynamic pose, Death strides over the mother crouching on the ground. Her dead child is half hidden by the fluttering cloak.

Hans Christian Andersen’s (1805-1875) tale The Story of a Mother provided the literary source of Hansen Jacobsen’s sculpture:

"And she lowered her head into her lap. And Death took her child into the Unknown Lands."

The motif of Death as the Grim Reaper

Visually, Hansen Jacobsen’s main sources of inspiration was other paintings of the time, where the motif of Death as the Grim Reaper appears in several variations, e.g. in works by the French painter Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) and the Danish painter L.A. Ring (1854-1933).

A break with naturalism

With its expressive idiom and obvious symbolism, this work marks a break with the naturalism that served as Hansen Jacobsen’s first point of departure, pointing ahead to the exuberance that came to characterise his sculptures in the years that followed.

In addition to this original plaster model, two bronze versions of the sculpture exists. One is located on the St. Petri cemetery in Copenhagen, while the other is, no less appropriately, placed by the museum that houses his life’s work: Vejen Kunstmuseum.

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  • Title: Motif from The Story of a Mother by Hans Christian Andersen
  • Creator: Niels Hansen Jacobsen
  • Date Created: 1892
  • Værktekst: I en dynamisk bevægelse skræver Døden hen over moderen, der kryber sammen på jorden. Hendes døde barn er halvt skjult under den flagrende kappe. H.C. Andersens (1805-1875) fortælling Historien om en Moder var det litterære forlæg for Hansen Jacobsens skulptur: "Og hun bøiede sit Hoved ned i sit Skjød. Og Døden gik med hendes Barn ind i det ubekjendte Land." Motivet med den skeletterede høstmand Kunstnerisk fandt Hansen Jacobsen den primære inspiration i periodens malerkunst, hvor motivet med den skeletterede høstmand findes i flere variationer, blandt andet hos den franske maler Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) og den danske maler L.A. Ring (1854-1933. Aften. Den gamle kone og Døden, 1887, Statens Museum for Kunst). Brud med naturalismen Som samlet udtryk betegner værket et brud med den naturalisme, der var Hansen Jacobsens afsæt, og med sin ekspressivitet og tydelige symbolik peger den frem mod den frodige fantasiudfoldelse, som kendetegner de følgende års skulpturer. Foruden denne originale gipsmodel findes skulpturen i to bronzestøbninger. Den ene står meget passende på Sankt Petri Kirkegård i København, den anden ikke mindre passende ved Vejen Kunstmuseum, der huser hans livsværk.
  • Teknik: Gips
  • Proveniens: Køb 1899
  • Provenance: Acquired 1899
  • Physical Dimensions: w183 x h152 x d108 cm (Without frame)
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=1209
  • Dansk Titel: Døden og moderen
  • Type: Statue
  • Rights: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Medium: Plaster

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