As winter approaches, I can’t help but to think about being bundled up and reading a great classic. In reflecting on childhood classics, I felt compelled to share with you an exquisitely crafted sculpture that is inspired by the well-known tale Little Red Riding Hood. This 19th century sculpture is expertly carved from pure white marble by Joseph Gott. Known for his unconventional, almost light-hearted approach to his subjects, Gott first entered the Royal Academy schools in 1805. He went on to win a silver medal in 1806 and gold medals in 1807 and 1819.
Gott’s approach to sculpture is epitomized in Little Red Riding Hood, where the legendary character’s unmistakable charm is effortlessly rendered. Captured in a peaceful moment, certainly a rare one in this famous story, Little Red Riding Hood’s innocent expression is echoed perfectly by the fine white marble Gott used to craft this work of art.
Originally from Leeds, England, Joseph Gott began to explore his art at an early age. When you look at this sculpture, you can’t help but think he was inspired by his experience as a young artist! From 1798-1802, he studied under celebrated sculptor and Wedgwood designer John Flaxman. In 1822, Gott went to Rome as many artists did during the time. The inexpensive lifestyle, beautiful landscape and readily available artist materials made it a haven for artists like Gott. And like many artists, Rome was to be Gott’s base for the rest of his life.
A contemporary of John Gibson and Richard James Wyatt, who were also based in Rome, Gott set himself apart from his fellow expatriate sculptors, avoiding high moral or obscure mythological themes and never developing a liking for sweet nymphs. Gott's work instead responded to the more open-minded patron who wanted sculptures that reflected an unaffectedness and genuine humanity. His work includes a variety of rustics and shepherds, animals – especially dogs – and many portrait busts and medallions, typically in Roman costume. Among his ideal figures, the most characteristic are girls, lightly draped, with Greek foreheads and noses, but their softer faces and chins putting them firmly in the early part of the 19th Century. Little Red Riding Hood has never been more beautiful!
Click here to see more of M.S. Rau’s fascinating sculptures.