Jacques Lipchitz

Study for ‘Prometheus’


Original title
Etude pour 'Prométheé'
Object: 260 x 227 x 114 mm
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982

Display caption

In Greek mythology, Prometheus gave humans the secret of fire to enable their independent creativity. Zeus punished this act of defiance by setting Prometheus in chains and sending a vulture to attack him each day. Lipchitz saw Prometheus as a legendary artist and, more generally, a symbol of freedom. This is an early study for his monument for the 1937 International Exhibition, which he described as 'a political sculpture, propaganda for democracy'. In this composition, Prometheus restrains the vulture with one hand and holds aloft the flame with the other.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

T03497 Study for Prometheus 1936
Terracotta, partly coated with shellac 10 1/8 × 9 × 4 1/2 (260 × 227 × 114)
Inscribed ‘J Lipchitz’ incised under base and ‘4’ and ‘421’ in black paint under base.
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982
Lit: Arnason 1969, repr.121 (bronze); Lipchitz 1972, pp.136–40

See entry on T03500. These two ‘Prometheus’ maquettes are both of the first idea for a commission from the ‘Palais de la Découverte’ at the Grand Palais, Paris, and show the reclining figure of Prometheus safeguarding the flame with one hand, while with the other holding back a vulture.

[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