Crawford was one of America’s best carvers and his ability and technique is highly refined. Crawford’s marbles are rare and stand as some of the finest work of the period.
This rare and stupendously carved work by Thomas Crawford depicts the young boy from his iconic work Babes in the Woods executed circa 1850. The large version was popular and two versions were carved for patrons, one of which resides at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The subject depicted two young children who affectionately hold one another as they fall asleep and on to eternal slumber. However, it has been noted that at this time, Crawford’s intent is to draw out the innocence, poignancy and tranquility of their situation.
It is interesting to speculate as to why he carved this bust which is clearly a small version perhaps meant as a small commemorative funerary headpiece for a patron who lost a child. It was highly common for sculptors to break out a single figure from their large works. The young boys garb is almost identical to that in the large version as is the position of the head and the expression. Crawford was one of America’s best carvers and his ability and technique is highly refined. As demonstrated in this work, the carving of the plaits of hair is much deeper and more impressive than one would find with an Erastus Palmer, Hiram Powers or most of his counterparts. It is also possible that Crawford carved this in the hope of placing it and more orders for small funerary pieces, which would explain it not being signed. It may have stayed in Crawford’s studio or it may have been placed with a client who did not wish to have Crawford’s signature directly on the marble. This work was discovered in a barn where it had lain somewhat abandoned and it is also possible that it was pilfered from a cemetery. It is not unusual for many of our Neo-Classical marbles to have a history of neglect as they have fallen from favor a number of times since the time in which they were executed. Crawford’s marbles are rare and stand as some of the finest work of the period.
From the Collection of a Private Family in Boston
Descended in the above collection