Medardo Rosso

(Torino 1858 - Milano 1928)


Measures: 31,5 cm

Technique: Bronze sculpture, fixed to the marble base with a screw and bolt, cast with the sculpture. The marble base is made from the fragment of an architectural fragment in breccia d'Arzo, reworked by the artist

first specimen: Milan 1882

Notes: Medardo Rosso specialist Paola Mola dates this specimen to the 1890s; of this casting, to her knowledge, there are 5, maximum 6 specimens, all cast between 1890 and 1902; this specimen is in the Catalogue of Medardo Rosso’s original works kept in the Archive of the Museo Rosso in Barzio by Paola Mola.

For a general bibliography of the Mischief or Gavroche, the dating the first specimen to 1882, the numerous titles, the historical-critical vicissitude and the transfer of the sculpture into photography, see P.Mola, L’opera e la serie, in P. Mola, F. Vittucci, Medardo Rosso. Catalogo ragionato della scultura, Skira, Milan, 2009, pp. 58-65, with previous bibliography; for specimens documented in sources see there, F. Vittucci, Catalogo delle sculture documentate, pp. 227-233, with previous bibliography; for original specimens not documented by the sources see ivi, P. Mola, Per un catalogo delle sculture non documentate, pp.350-351, III.2a. – III.2e., with previous bibliography; for the fusions of Francesco, son of Medardo Rosso, see ivi. P. Mola, Le fusioni di Francesco Rosso, p. 362, IV.l., with previous bibliography.

Having examined the work live, from the analysis of the sources, the literature review and comparison with other casts originals by Gavroche, the following can be noted. The modelling of this specimen, rough and antigracious, fully corresponds to the rare quality of the original bronzes by Rosso.

Corresponding to the originals are the richness and “sprezzatura” of the form on the face as on the cap, and in particular the features of the ears, eyes and chin.

Corresponding to Rosso’s practice is the attachment of the work to the base with a plate, fixed to the marble with a screw and bolt. In the case of this specimen, note the prominence of the bolt: an element of concrete reality that enters the work as part of Rosso’s poetics as early as his Milanese years. Note also the diagonal arrangement of the screw corresponding to Rosso’s dynamic vision. It corresponds to Rosso’s practice of accidental and anti-academic finishing of the border along the perimeter of the shirt. The base in rare Breccia d’Arzo, most likely a fragment of a neoclassical fireplace, is coeval and aesthetically an integral part of the sculpture, similar to some other bases from the Milanese period when Rosso used fragments of ancient bases or architectural elements to complement his own work, in a real idea of assemblage. We specify that the base is cut and readapted by the artist himself.


For the above reasons, and other less obvious but no less significant  reasons, I consider this bronze to be an original casting personally executed by Medardo Rosso, to be ascribed to the 1890s, in the first Parisian decade. This specimen is acquired in the Catalogue of original works by Medardo Rosso kept in the Archives of the Museo Rosso in Barzio.

Paola Mola



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