After the death of his beloved mother in 1913, John Storrs began an in depth exploration of the traditional mother and child theme in his sculpture. During this period, he also met and married Marguerite De Ville Chabrol, an extensively published author and correspondent for Paris Temps. Their daughter Monique, born in 1918, served as an important subject for many of Storrs's sculptures into the 1920s, including his Modern Madonna works. He created this particular series from extensive sketches he made of his wife and daughter just after her birth.
In 1914, Storrs was commissioned to design a war medal for the Association Nationale pour la Protection des Veuves et Orphelins de la Guerre in Paris. This association for widows and orphans commissioned a medal from Storrs in an effort to raise money. The maquette for the medal, created in 1915, depicts a mother embraced by two children, based on the model of Caritas and her children. In this work, Storrs aimed to create unbroken surfaces without intermediary lines because, "Today, we of the modern school, try to put light into our thought, our art." (N. Frackman, John Storrs, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1986, p. 21) In the creation of his Modern Madonna series, Storrs interpreted the mother and child subject further through his Modernist style.
As a sculptor, Storrs had long employed the influence of Cubism and Futurism in his work. His development of these styles as well as his earlier travels through Egypt and Greece are evident in the form of odern Madonna. In this work, the Madonna and child theme creates a grouping of figures both architectonic in their verticality and tender in their subject matter. Storrs elongates the figures in this sculpture, creating svelte bodies similar to the boyishly slim figures popular in this period. "The Christ Child's head, the arms of the Madonna, and other body parts are planar and angled in a manner not easily reconciled with the human form; rather, Storrs has superimposed a casing of sharp edges and slices." (John Storrs, p. 22)
Modern Madonna is one of John Storrs's finest sculptures combining the mother and child theme he spent over ten years exploring and the strongest elements of his artistic style.