The first 'Maiastra' was made by Brancusi between 1910 and 1912 and is a carving in white marble, now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Tate Gallery version is a bronze cast taken from this by Brancusi, to which he added a carved stone base. It is also the first work in which Brancusi introduced the innovation of polishing bronze to its natural golden colour. Apart from the sheer beauty of effect, this helps to dematerialise or spiritualise the object. The immateriality of the smooth, gleaming bronze, and its upward thrust, is given deliberate emphasis by the extreme contrast with the weighty rough stone base, on which are carved in relief two birds rather similar to the 'Maiastra', their heads and necks coiled like springs below the fiat slab on which the bronze bird rests.
'Maiastra' was bought from Brancusi in Paris in 1913, by the American photographer Edward Steichen, who wrote in his autobiography 'it appealed to me immediately as the most wonderful concept and execution I had seen by any sculptor with the exception of Rodin'. Brancusi installed it in Steichen's garden at Voulangis, placing it on a square section wooden pillar about ten feet high, where it must have looked extraordinary, shining in the sun, and seen from below against the sky. It became known then in the Paris art world as 'L'Oiseau d'Or' - the golden bird.
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, Tate Gallery, London, revised edition 1991, p.151