Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Singer

1913

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Derby stone
Dimensions
Object: 851 x 216 x 159 mm
Permanently attached to MDF plinth base 25 x292 x 310mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by C. Frank Stoop through the Contemporary Art Society 1930
Reference
N04514

Display caption

This was one of Gaudier-Brzeska’s largest sculptures to date, and was probably carved as a garden ornament. A letter from the sculptor written in September 1913 states that he was to meet Joseph Duveen, the dealer and art collector, in order to discuss making some garden ornaments for him. The subject of a singer was quite a rare one in sculpture. With her right hand the singer grabs her pigtail. Stylised pigtails were popular at this time in the stone carvings of Eric Gill and Jacob Epstein, both colleagues of the artist.

Gallery label, September 2016

Catalogue entry

N04514 SINGER 1913
 
Not inscribed.
Derby stone, 33 1/2×8 1/2×6 1/4 (85×22×16), including base.
Presented by C. Frank Stoop through the Contemporary Art Society 1930.
Coll: N04514-N04533 were accepted by the Tate Gallery in November 1926 as a permanent loan from the intestate estate of the late Miss Sophie Brzeska through the Treasury Solicitor. They were acquired by C. Frank Stoop in 1930 for presentation.
Exh: London Group, March 1915 (95), as ‘Singer’; Vorticist Exhibition, Doré Galleries, June 1915 (e); Leicester Galleries, May–June 1918 (100); Temple Newsam, Leeds, June–August 1943 (64), as ‘La Chanteuse Triste’; Arts Council, 1956–7 (17), as ‘La Chanteuse Triste’.
Lit: Pound, 1916, pp.89–90, 159, repr. pls. 23 and 24; Ezra Pound in exh. cat., Leicester Galleries, May–June 1918; Gaudier in Ede, 1930, pp.196–7; Palmer in Studio, CLIII, 1957, p.178.
Repr: The Egoist, 1, 16 February 1914, p.80, with No.T.542, as ‘Two Statues’; Ede, 1930, pl.33; Herbert Maryon, Modern Sculpture, 1933, pl.113; Pound, 1957, p.3.

Dated 1913 in Gaudier's list of his works, 9 July 1914, and entitled simply ‘Chanteuse’; it was first exhibited as ‘Singer’. It was first referred to as ‘La Chanteuse Triste’ by Pound in 1916; he wrote of it, 1918, ‘In the Singer we have what may seem an influence from archaic Greek, we have the crossed arms motif...also an elongation possibly ascribable to a temporary admiration of the Gothic.’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I