In his lifetime, the Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso was rivaled by Auguste Rodin, whom he is said to have influenced, and revered by Umberto Boccioni, whose Futurist notions of simultaneity and motion he disavowed. Although Rosso's reputation never matched these artists', he remained in the forefront of modern sculpture from the 1880s to the early 1900s. His last sculpture, Ecce Puer (Behold the Child), was produced in 1906 in London, where that year the artist had a one-man show. It is a commissioned portrait of Alfred William Mond, a British boy of about five or six years old. Rosso's style has been called Impressionist because light and air dematerialize form. However, unlike the Impressionist painters who recorded visual sensations directly from nature, Rosso's images are a synthesis of memory and emotion. Ecce Puer, for example, was produced after only a brief glimpse of the boy peeking through a parted curtain. Working through the night, the artist completed a seemingly "unfinished" head that captures the transitory moment. It is meant to be seen from a fixed vantage point, rather than in the round. Upon it's completion, Rosso described the head as "a vision of purity in a banal world."
Luigi Toninelli, Rome (in 1980); Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery H. Loria, New York (until 1990; their gift to MMA)
Lisa M. Messinger in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1990–1991." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49 (Fall 1991), p. 63, ill.