Bessie Potter Vonnoh (American, 1872–1955)
Bronze; 12 x 8 x 10 in. (30.5 x 20.3 x 25.4 cm)
Gift of George A. Hearn, 1906 (06.298)
The timelessness and universality of the mother-and-child theme were frequent leitmotifs in Vonnoh’s work. Enthroned presents a mother ensconced in a throne-like chair, with an infant on her lap and a daughter standing at either side, an embodiment of the ideal modern mother. She has an iconic presence, a quality reinforced by the traditional pyramidal shape and the implication of the statuette’s title. Although the children are posed naturally, the mother—static and centrally placed—presents a Madonna-like aura, enhanced by the halo-like ornament on the chair framing her head. While not a portrait, the sitters have been identified as Vonnoh’s neighbors, Helena Walter, a German immigrant, and her daughters, Helen, Josephine, and infant Elizabeth.