Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Torso of a Woman

1913, cast 1930

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 210 x 89 x 83 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Earl of Sandwich 1930
Reference
N04534

Display caption

Gaudier-Brzeska made a number of naturalistic works to demonstrate his accomplishment as a sculptor. The artist stated: 'I long to make a statue of a single body, an absolutely truthful copy - something so true that it will live when it is made.' For this work Gaudier-Brzeska made a clay model from which two plaster casts were taken. One of the plasters, one breast of which had broken, was later acquired by the Earl of Sandwich and from it three bronzes were cast, of which this is one. Two similar torsos in marble are listed by Gaudier-Brzeska as portraits of the artist Nina Hamnett. In this work the artist reveals his understanding of classical sculpture.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

N04534 TORSO OF A WOMAN 1913
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 8 1/4×3 1/2×3 1/4 (21×9×8).
Presented by the Earl of Sandwich 1930.
Lit: Ede, 1930, p.205; Ede in Le Jardin des Arts, 1955, p.28, repr.
Repr: The plaster: Brodzky, 1933, facing p.16. The bronze: Pound, 1957, pl.7.

One of several naturalistic studies made by the artist to show his accomplishment as a sculptor (see Ede, 1930, p.177). The original in clay was finished in 1913. Two plaster casts were made. The clay and one plaster were given to Wolmark, the second plaster, one breast of which was broken, was given to Brodzky. The latter was acquired by the Earl of Sandwich and from it three bronze casts were made in 1930, of which this is one.

Two similar torsos in marble are listed by Gaudier (in Ede, 1930, pp.200–1) as being portraits of Nina Hamnett, who refers to them in her book Laughing Torso, 1932, pp.39–40. They now belong to Ezra Pound and the V. & A. (repr. Pound, 1957, pls.8 and 6 respectively). The one belonging to Ezra Pound was nicknamed ‘Mlle. G.’ and is referred to in one of the artist's letters from the trenches (Ezra Pound, 1916, p.75). A plaster cast was exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, May–June 1918 (8), described as ‘Plaster cast of Torso in Victoria and Albert Museum’ but possibly one of the two casts mentioned above.

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

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