During his lifetime Lambeaux, an accomplished sculptor and romantic figure, infused his innovative work with a certain amount of modernity. Though he enjoyed stirring up controversy, he nevertheless had his share of fame. Lambeaux owes his renown to the distribution of small versions of his works. His “reductions” gradually became an essential addition to every bourgeois interior, establishing him as a leading figure of nineteenth-century Belgian art.
This sculpture falls within a long iconographic tradition, from the Dying Galatian of antiquity to the Tarcisius, Christian Martyr of Falguière. The expression of physical suffering in this work is particularly reflective of the style of Rodin, his contemporary. The same passion drove the two powerful modellers, who introduced a type of “expressionism” to sculpture. An iconoclastic artist, often compared to Jordaens and Rubens for his vigorous style, Lambeaux was also criticized by the Symbolists for the same reasons. Jean Delville, for example, had no qualms about describing him as “the Michelangelo of the gutter.”