THEBABES IN THE WOOD
TheBabes in the Wood is a marble sculpture carved with a painstakinglyrecorded illustrative detail by an American sculptor, ThomasCrawford. It has dimensions of 43.2 x 124.5 x 85.1 cm. The work isdeveloped from the English folk song, identified as “The Childrenin the Wood,” which was used to describe the grievous death of twochildren. The work is one of Crawford’s most stunning creations andone of his most popular too1.The children were found clinched in each other’s hand and left withimproper burial. In the original situation, the kids were only leftnear a robin, which covers them with leaves.
Thesculptor intended to depict the peaceful and innocent death of thetwo young children. His work is a form of neoclassical funerarysculpture that replaces the earlier styles of tormented baroquecompositions. The sculpture expresses calm, pious scenes where reasonand tranquility reigns. Crawford attempts to moderate the agony ofdeath by expressing it with bittersweet soppiness. The children inthe sculpture are portrayed to have died without fear and areexpressed to be in a peaceful eternal slumber. Such is confirmed bythe sculptor’s use of white marble and his inclusion of untroubledexpressions in the faces of the children. In the sculptor, Crawforddepicts death as mere sleep.
Throughthe sculpture TheBabes in the Woods,Crawford clearly depicts the death of the two children. The childrenhad been left to wander alone in the woods after a planned murder bytheir uncle. Despite the harsh conditions that they passed through,the children died in a peaceful manner as expressed by their facialexpression2.Their surface on which they lay is carved with floral motifs, andwhite marble acorns are scattered on the surface covered with someleaves. Their costumes were curved as intricately worked old-Englishstyle. The decors and the surface representations are characteristicof the surface minutiae that was an extended form of thenineteenth-century sculpture.
Thesculptor employs subtle detail to express the emotions of the twochildren. The faces are of smooth texture and do not indicate anyform of deterioration. This could have been used by the to indicatethe nature of their death. The texture rhymes with the emotionalrepresentation on the faces of the children. One would mistake thechildren’s state to that of individuals taking a peaceful sleep3.The choice of the white marble also seem to concur with the textureand the expressions on the face hence such could have been used todepict the children`s peaceful state intentionally. Suchrepresentation of death as a peaceful state is associated with theVictorian subject of the mid-nineteenth century neoclassicalsculptors. The exemplification was also used and is clearly depictedin Sir Francis Chantry’s Sleeping Children.
Fromthe sculpture, one notes that the children met their death in sleepand that there was no antemortem struggle. This is depicted by theorientation of the bodies. It is also notable that the death tookplace under a tree as Crawford includes Robin leaves close to thechildren. One can also note the close relationship between thecharacters in the sculpture – they die holding each other. They diewithout fear into an eternal slumber. The sculptures are wellpreserved, considering its date of creation, as pictured by theundisturbed texture and lack of cracks or erosion.
Caldecott,Randolph. TheBabes in the Wood.Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational, 2012.
TheMet. "Temporarily Unavailable." Home. 2015. Accessed May04, 2016. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10573.
1 The Met. "Temporarily Unavailable." Home. 2015. Accessed May 04, 2016. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/10573.
2 Caldecott, Randolph. The Babes in the Wood. Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational, 2012.
3 Caldecott, Randolph. The Babes in the Wood. Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational, 2012.