Mother Goose, 1938

Frederick George Richard Roth

On the east side of Central Park near 71st Street; Just outside the entrance to Rumsey Playfield.

In this sculpture, the human figure of Mother Goose is shown astride her flying goose, wisking through the air with her cape billowing out behind her. She holds the reins in one hand, and leans forward in the direction of her flight. Her head is held high, and she grins at the viewer as she flies by. She wears a tall, wide-brimmed pointed hat and little round glasses. She carries a pouch at her side, and her large-buckled shoes stick out from below her cape.

The goose and rider fly afloat a swirl of clouds, scattered among which are small images of scenes from Mother Goose's nursery rhymes. Represented in the clouds are Humpty Dumpty, Little Bo Peep, Little Jack Horner, Old King Cole, and Mother Hubbard [1].

At the time that he made Mother Goose, Roth held a position as sculptor for the Parks Department. City funding for public art and other civic projects was at a low, but because of his connection with the parks, Roth made a number of sculptures when few other public works were being commissioned [2]. Another of his pieces from this period is the nearby sculpture of the Alaskan sled dog, Balto.

Possible discussion themes
How is material a consideration in creating public art?
Mother Goose is made of stone, and the sculpture is showing its age. How can material be more of a concern when creating outdoor sculpture than indoor works?

What are the similarities and differences between Balto and Mother Goose, two pieces by the same artist?
While both pieces incorporate animals, the materials and the overall feel are very different. What contributes to these differences?

Related art works
There are various sculptures with Children's themes in the area of Central Park near Mother Goose. These works include:
      The Delacorte Clock.

Although very different in style, and of different materials, Mother Goose and Balto are nonetheless by the same artist. Balto demonstrates Roth's interest in and skill at sculpting animals, while Mother Goose shows a more whimsical side [3].


  1. Reynolds, D. M. (1988). Monuments and masterpieces: Histories and views of public sculpture in New York City. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 145.
  2. Bogart, M. (1989). Public sculpture and the civic ideal in New York City, 1890-1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 375.
  3. Reynolds, p. 145.

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