Horace Brodzky 1885–1969
T01786 Interior of Gaudier-Brzeska’s Studio, Putney 1915
Inscribed on left side margin ‘Entrance/to ‘Railway/Arch 25’/Putney/June29/15/ to be etched,’ on drawing b.l. ‘H. Brodzky June 29/15’ and on reverse ‘Showing large stone/One of a pair to be/carved as flower/pots for garden/For Omega Workshops (Fry)’.
Pen, pencil, oil and wash, 7 x 10¼ (17.8 x 26.1).
Purchased from Fieldborne Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.
Coll: John Brodzky, the artist’s son.
Exh: Fieldborne Galleries, September 1973 (121, repr. pl.7).
This drawing and ‘Exterior of Gaudier-Brzeska’s Studio, Putney’ were made on a visit to the empty studio of his friend three weeks after Gaudier-Brzeska’s death. Gaudier-Brzeska was killed fighting with the French Army on 5 June 1915; the drawings are dated 29 June 1915, but it is not known whether Brodzky knew of the death of Gaudier-Brzeska at this date. Both drawings are inscribed ‘to be etched’ but no etchings of this subject were ever carried out.
Gaudier-Brzeska moved into Railway Arch 25 in 1913. During his friendship with Gaudier-Brzeska Brodzky was a frequent visitor at the studio, which he describes in his biography of the artist:
‘His studio was a railway arch over which the electric trains rumbled all day. He occupied only half of the arch, which had been divided lengthways by a wooden partition. It was a good workman-like place with a concrete floor, well lit by windows at each of its quadrant-shaped ends. The other side of the partition was occupied by an Italian sculptor, who had been a neighbour of Brzeska’s at Fulham and had asked him to share the cost of converting this barrel-roofed “studio” at Putney, to which Brzeska was agreeable as there was a saving of rent... In wet and cold weather however, the new workshop was a miserable and chilly place, for it was difficult to heat.
‘The new workshop contained nothing designed for comfort. Benches, a portable furnace for tempering his chisels, a couple of decrepit chairs and a small stove were all its furniture. It even looked barer than his Fulham studio, for there seemed to be a chair or two less.’ (H. Brodzky, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, pp. 127–8).
The inscription on the reverse of the drawing has enabled the block of stone shown on the right-hand side to be identified as one of a pair of stones commissioned to be carved into garden ornaments through Roger Fry’s Omega Workshops for Lady Hamilton. They were his last and largest carvings and were left unfinished when Gaudier-Brzeska departed to fight in France in August 1914. The stone was of an exceptionally hard quality and Gaudier-Brzeska was unable to make more than the shallow groove on the uppermost side of the stone, as depicted in the drawing. (Described by Brodzky in Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, p. 136).
Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.