Sir George Frampton
Dated 1915 and entitled MADONNA
Bronze with black, dark and light brown patination
Height: 10 11/16" (27.17 cm)
Conceived and cast circa 1915
This charming rare model, produced in 1915, is a simplified version of Frampton’s more elaborate bronze Madonna of the Peach Tree of 1910. The title Madonna refers to the main character in Maurice Hewlett’s 1899 novel Madonna of the Peach Tree, which originally inspired Frampton in 1910.
Hewlett’s story takes place in Verona, where the young mother Giovanna Scarpa is forced to flee the city together with her new-born because of unfounded rumours against her. As dawn draws near, the young woman arrives at a peach orchard outside the city, where she meets some shepherds whom she begs for food. Her beauty and the baby boy in the light of dawn make the shepherds believe they have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary, spreading the word that a miracle has befallen the city.
It is not surprising to notice how the novel represented a source of inspiration for Frampton – its elements of ethereal beauty and religious mysticism would have found fertile ground in the artist’s mind. Yet, unlike his 1910 model, the present piece is stripped of any superfluous decoration, forcing the viewer to focus on the beautiful modelling of her features and pensive look.
Despite its simplicity, the composition of the piece is reminiscent of a Greek herm –a plain column with a head at the top, which was often distributed around the outer boundaries of cities and homes to fend off harm and evil. In this light, Frampton’s Madonna can be viewed as a devotional ‘talisman’, whose religious charge protects the owner of the piece.