Jacques Lipchitz

Sketch for a Figure


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Jacques Lipchitz 1891–1973
Object: 216 x 108 x 48 mm
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982

Not on display

Display caption

This small terracotta represents a figure, although its zig-zag lower part was based on an idea Lipchitz had for a pedestal of another work. Its play with the correspondence between abstract shapes and parts of the human figure was doubtlessly inspired by certain types of African sculpture, of which Lipchitz was an avid collector.
This is the first of three studies for a work which was later enlarged to seven feet high at the request of a patron, though Lipchitz has said that he had not thought of such a change of scale when he first made this sketch.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T03505 Sketch for a Figure 1926

Terracotta 8 1/2 × 4 1/4 × 1 1/2 (216 × 108 × 48)
Inscribed ‘L’ incised under base
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982
Lit: Bert van Bork, Jacques Lipchitz, The Artist at Work, 1966, repr.157 (as ‘Maquettes for Figure, 1926’, with two other terracottas); Arnason 1969, repr. 24 (bronze); Lipchitz 1972, pp. 89 ff.; Stott 1975, p.174

This is the earliest of three small terracottas, later used as studies for one of Lipchitz's largest sculptures up to that time, the 1930 ‘Figure’ (85 ins. high). Lipchitz wrote in his autobiography that he enlarged this idea at the request of a patron, and he had not thought of such a change of scale when he made the terracottas.

This sketch represents a figure, although it also borrows from the idea of the abstract zigzag pedestal of the 1921 ‘Study for a Garden Statue’ (T03523). In one of the other terracottas this connection is clearer, and Lipchitz modelled a relief of figures within the ‘head’ part, implying that the remainder was a pedestal. The large sculpture ‘Ploumanach’, 1926, is also ambiguous in this way, and can either be seen as a single head and shoulders, or as a rock with a small figure on it.

[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]

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