Jacques Lipchitz

Song of Songs


Original title
Le Cantique des cantiques
Object: 470 x 965 x 273 mm
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982

Catalogue entry

T03532 Song of Songs 1946

Plaster coated with shellac 18 1/2 × 38 × 10 3/4 (470 × 965 × 273)
Inscribed ‘Lipchitz.’ incised under base
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982
Lit: Lipchitz 1972, p.167

See entry on T03489, which is an earlier version of the same subject.

Lipchitz chose this subject in response to a commission for a sculpture to hang on a wall, and there is a slot in the base to receive a wall hook. The plaster is cast as a thin shell, and is probably the version ‘first done in stucco’ that Lipchitz describes:

The next maquette I made in 1944 was a rough design for the ‘Embracing Couple’, which was to develop into the ‘Song of Songs’. At the time I was working on this sketch, a friend of mine, an architect, told me that he wanted to give his wife a present, a sculpture for her music room. I looked at the apartment and felt that the idea involved in this piece might be appropriate; so I made a somewhat larger sketch in 1946, still rough and free, and finally the finished sculpture, which was first done in stucco to have it light for hanging on the wall. The forms as finally realized have a curvilinear flow appropriate to the musical theme. I finally made a bronze version, changing the shapes and proportions somewhat. It was thought of first as a relief, but then I placed it on a support, transforming it into a free-standing sculpture that suggests a relief form. This I had done many years earlier when I transformed some of my cubist reliefs into free-standing sculptures by placing them on a base, and the idea actually led to that interest in severe frontality that dominated in such works of the twenties as the ‘Ploumanach’. The title, ‘Song of Songs’, of course comes from the Old Testament, and the theme is a love song, extremely lyrical and tender, since it was made for a very loving couple (Lipchitz, loc.cit.).

[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