Dora Gordine

Guadaloupe Head/Negress

1928

Medium
Bronze on fabric and wooden base
Dimensions
Object: 360 x 230 x 230 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983
Reference
T03746

Display caption

During the 1920s and 1930s, Gordine worked on a series of sculptures that represent the physiognomic characteristics of different races. This work was probably made in Paris, in the context of a growing interest in the art and cultural objects of non-western cultures among the European avant-garde. It is also firmly rooted in the colonialism of the era. The Caribbean island of Guadaloupe was a French colony, and later became part of France. While artists such as Picasso and Gaudier-Brzeska looked to African carvings as an inspiration, Gordine never departs from the language of classical European sculpture.

Gallery label, December 2011

Catalogue entry

T03746 Guadaloupe Head c.1925–7

Bronze 14 1/4 × 9 1/8 × 9 1/8 (360 × 230 × 230)
Inscribed ‘Dora Gordine 8/8’ on back of head and ‘VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE BRONZE’ on back of neck
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum 1983
Prov: Mrs A.Q. Patullo (probably purchased at the Leicester Galleries in 1938); bequeathed by her to the Victoria and Albert Museum 1952 (Circ. 80–1952)
Exh: ? Salon des Tuileries, Paris (date unknown, unspecified cast);? An Exhibition of Sculpture by Dora Gordine, Leicester Galleries, October 1928 (7, repr., as ‘Guadaloupe Head (Negress’, unspecified cast); ? Exhibition of Recent Sculpture and Drawings by Dora Gordine, Leicester Galleries, November 1938 (24, under ‘Earlier Sculpture’, unspecified cast); ? Junge Künstler, Dora Gordine, Fritz Kronenberg, Paul Strecker, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin, September–October 1929 (4, repr. as ‘Negerin’ unspecified cast); travelling exhibitions of Department of Circulation, Victoria and Albert Museum; British Sculpture in the Twentieth Century, Whitechapel Art Gallery, September–November 1981 (79)
Lit: Arthur Symons, ‘Sculpture, Dora Gordine’, The Spectator, 4 November 1938

The artist (the Hon Mrs Richard Hare) has stated that this is the earliest of her four bronze heads of African and Oriental women that belong to the Tate Gallery. She made the sculpture while still a student at Paris University, and modelled it from the life from a girl whom she met by chance, and ‘struck by her dignity’, asked to sit for her.

The edition of eight casts was completed, and the artist recalled that all were sold to private collectors by 1938.

This information was given by the artist on 7 February 1985.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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