These two impressive marble children are typical of Flemish sculpture in the age of Rubens. Their chubby anatomy, playful expressions and amusing actions are characteristic of both painting and sculpture in the Low Countries during the first half of the 17th century.
Stylistic comparisons with these children can be made with several sculptors working in this popular genre which shows an overall Italianate influence, such as Lucas Fayherbe’s Infant Jesus (Stedelijk Museum, Malines) and, most obviously, Jérôme du Quesnoy the elder’s Manneken-Pis (Maison du Roi, Brussels). However, the strongest affinities are with the work of Jérôme du Quesnoy the younger, most notably with his signed terracotta Infant Hercules and the serpent (Musée Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels).
Although Jérôme the younger’s reputation as a sculptor has been overshadowed by his elder brother, François, and even his father, his work, especially during the final decade of his life when he had returned to Brussels, is considered to be skilled and sensitive. His marble bust of Bishop Antoine Triest, carved with comparable veining to that apparent in the present children, is certainly one of his finest late works. During this period he was also at work on the Triest funerary monument in Saint-Bavon in Gand which includes seated children around the base which can also be closely compared to the present two children.
La Sculpture au siècle de Rubens, pp.86-95, no.59;
Lydie Hadermann-Misguich, ‘Du Quesnoy, Jérôme (ii),'Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press, 20 May 2005, http://www.groveart.com/
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