A Symposium on Medardo Rosso’s Bambino Ebreo


October 30, 2014

The Center for Italian Modern Art is pleased to present its first program of the 2014-15 season, an investigation into Medardo Rosso’s approach to serial sculpture, focused on the Bambino ebreo.


Deeply interested in questions of process, and acclaimed for his radical approaches to material, subject, and form, Medardo Rosso (1858-1928) was one of the few sculptors of his time to make his own casts rather than rely on commercial foundries. Such a level of control allowed him to conceive of each cast both as a unique object and as part of a series, as well as a site for technical experimentation.

Bambino ebreo [Jewish Boy], conceived originally in Paris in the 1890s, was one of the subjects that Rosso repeatedly returned to throughout his life, reproducing it for exhibitions and personal gifts. Interpretations of this disconsolate young face have oscillated through the years, and the work has been variously read as a universal metaphor of social alienation, suffering, loneliness, sadness, Jewishness, and even childhood itself.

This summer ten of these Bambino ebreo casts—many never publicly exhibited before—were brought together for the first time for an exceptional exhibition at the Peter Freeman Gallery in New York, curated by Rosso scholar and art historian Sharon Hecker.

CIMA’s program brings together members of an international team of art historians, conservators, and conservation scientists, led by Hecker, to share the results of the research they have conducted into Medardo Rosso’s technique and creative approach to serial sculpture.


1.30 pm – 2.00 pm    Registration and Welcome

2.00 pm – 3.00 pm    Rosso the Sculptor-Founder: Problems with Dating, Attributing and Assessing his Work; The Bambino ebreo Series: History of the Subject and Motivation Behind this Study

Sharon Hecker, independent art historian

3.00 pm – 3.30 pm    Historical Context: the Sculptor-Founder in France in the Late-Nineteenth Century    

Elisabeth Lebon, independent expert on nineteenth-century casting techniques

3.30 pm – 4.00 pm Break

4.00 pm – 5.00 pm  Formulating a New Investigative Method for Serial Sculpture; Results of the Study

Sharon Hecker; Elisabeth Lebon; Austin Nevin (Conservator and Conservation Scientist at the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnologies, National Research Council, Italy); Francesca Bewer and Henry Lie (Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard University); Ron Street and Federico Carò (Scientific Department, Metropolitan Museum of Art)

5.00 – 5.30 pm   Group Discussion   Martina Droth, Head of Research, Yale Center for British Art, Respondent

5.30 pm   Tour of Rosso Installation by CIMA Fellows, Chiara Fabi and Francesco Guzzetti

6.30pm – 8pm    Reception at the Peter Freeman Gallery. CIMA sponsors Giovanni Rana Pastificio e Cucina and Nino Franco Prosecco, presented by Terlato Wines, are kindly supplying the food and drink.