Udagawa Kazuo, bronze figure
(c. 1903 AD)

Japanese Decorative Arts Gallery,

Gallery 26, Ground Floor


Focus on the Object

This bronze figure of a mother feeding her child with chopsticks was made around 1903 by Udagawa Kazuo.

Our knowledge of this artist is very limited, but he seems to have belonged to the 'romantic' school of realism, part of the Tokyo school. These 'romantics' specialized in figures of working people looking happy, prosperous and well-nourished, an image not well based in reality and sometimes verging on the sentimental.

Materials and Subject
The piece is made from cast bronze and wood. Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin, cast by running molten bronze into a mould. This artist probably used piece-moulds that cannot have been destroyed in the casting process as more than one sculpture was made.

The subject of the piece is obviously reminiscent of the European iconography of “mother and child”. It nevertheless shows marked differences from the western tradition, such as the use of chopsticks, the bento box from which she is feeding the baby and the dress of the woman.