Auguste Rodin’s marble Young Mother in a Grotto is related to a mother-child pair found on the left panel of the Gates of Hell. The woman, crouching in a grotto and shielding her child from the elements, seems to embody maternal love and protection. The contrasting textures of the smooth figures against the rough grotto highlight the way the human forms magically emerge from the living stone in a deeply primordial way, something that Rodin learned from Michelangelo. The theme of maternal love is much less prevalent in Rodin’s work than love between man and woman. A similar work was titled both Young Mother and Woman and Love, and Rodin gave many of his drawings on the theme mythological titles. Is the baby on her knee her own child, or the personification of love, Eros?
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