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T03494 Géricault 1933
Terracotta 9 1/2 × 7 × 8 (241 × 177 × 202)
Inscribed ‘13’ inside neck, in black paint
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982
Lit: Irene Patai, Encounters: The Life of Jacques Lipchitz, 1961, p.262; Arnason 1969, repr. 104 (bronze); Lipchitz 1972, p.128 and repr.115 (bronze)
Arnason reproduces four different bronze heads of Géricault by Lipchitz, including this one, all studies for a large bronze 24ins. high of the same year (A.M. Hammacher, Jacques Lipchitz, 1975, repr. p.108). A plaster from the Tate Gallery's terracotta is in the collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art (Arizona 1982, 43, repr.).
Lipchitz wrote that he intended this portrait to be as accurate a likeness as possible:
During 1932 and 1933 I returned to portraiture, of which the most interesting to me was the portrait of Géricault. I have always been a great admirer of this painter, a genius who died young, and I have some paintings of his. There exists a death mask of Géricault of which I acquired a cast. I wanted to make the portrait as realistic as possible, so I checked documents and existing portraits of him. This was my homage to a great artist whom I loved very much. I think it is a good portrait. Even the Museum at Rouen, which has a lot of his works because Géricault was born there, bought a copy. My American dealer, Curt Valentin, bequeathed me a small sculpture by Géricault of a fawn and a nymph (Lipchitz, loc.cit.).
This imaginary portrait is unusual in Lipchitz's work, and he made no other such references to artists. His other portraits of 1932–3 have not been published, but the Géricault head is much less idealised than the 1920s portraits, and in the sculpture he exaggerated the lack of symmetry between left and right, and the sloping jaw of the painter.
[For T03397 and T03479 to T03534 the foundry inscriptions, and reproductions of casts in other materials in the books listed below, are recorded. Abbreviations used:
Arnason 1969 H.H. Arnason, Jacques Lipchitz: Sketches in Bronze, 1969
Lipchitz 1972 Jacques Lipchitz, My Life in Sculpture, 1972
Stott 1975 Deborah A. Stott, Jacques Lipchitz and Cubism, 1975 (reprinted 1978)
Otterlo 1977 A.M. Hammacher, Lipchitz in Otterlo, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, 1977
Centre Pompidou 1978 Nicole Barbier, Lipchitz: oeuvres de Jacques Lipchitz (1891–1973) dans les collections du Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, 1978
Arizona 1982 Jacques Lipchitz. Sketches and Models in the collection of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona. Introduction and catalogue by Peter Bermingham, 1982]
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986