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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Artist: William Henry Rinehart, American, 1825–1874

Sleeping Children

1869

Marble

15 3/4 × 37 1/2 × 19 in. (40 × 95.3 × 48.3 cm)
Yale University Art Gallery
1900.47
It is unclear whether these innocent children are sleeping or dead. Their tranquil poses and rumpled blanket imply that they might awaken at any moment, but the cold and lifeless marble surface suggests otherwise. The first version of this sculpture, executed in 1859 and later reproduced in more than twenty replicas, was commissioned as a gravesite memorial for the family of William Henry Rinehart’s Baltimore patron. Reflecting a time when the death of children was a more common occurrence, the sculpture explores the mysterious border between the sleep of life and that of death.
Geography: 
Made in Rome, Italy, Europe
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Sculpture
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.