Germaine Richier

Water

1953–4

Original title
L'Eau
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 1441 x 640 x 983 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased out of funds provided by Lord Sainsbury and Sir Robert Sainsbury 1956
Reference
T00075

Display caption

Richier’s sculptures often incorporated found objects that she discovered while walking in the countryside. Here the neck of a Greek or Roman terracotta amphora, which Richier found on a beach in the Camargue region of France, forms the neck of a seated female figure. The original fragment was incorporated into a clay model, before being cast in plaster and then in bronze. Water suggests an analogy between the female form and the water receptacle, both being sources of life.

Gallery label, December 2007

Catalogue entry

Germaine Richier 1904-1959

T00075 L'Eau (Water) 1953-4

Inscribed 'G Richier' and 'Susse. Fondeur' on upper surface of base, 'SUSSE. Fondeur. Paris' on side of base
Bronze, 56 1/2 x 24 5/8 x 38 (143.5 x 62.5 x 96.5)
Purchased from the artist through the Hanover Gallery out of funds provided by Lord Sainsbury and Sir Robert Sainsbury 1956
Exh: Germaine Richier, Hanover Gallery, London, October-November 1955 (4)
Repr: Studio, CLXIII, 1962, p.9; Germaine Richier, Dor de La Souchère and others, Germaine Richier 1904-1959 (Paris 1966), n.p.

Mme Françoise Guiter, the sculptor's niece, told the compiler in January 1977 that Germaine Richier often included in her sculpture objects which she found in the course of the walks she liked to take. She usually reworked these elements. In the case of 'Water', she incorporated the neck of a Greek or Roman amphora which she found on the beach of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, near the mouth of the Petit Rhône in the Camargue. This is a stretch of coast on which there have been many shipwrecks.

It is an area of which she was very fond. She went there almost every time she stayed in her native Provence in the neighbourhood of Arles or in the Languedoc near Montpellier, the place where she spent the greater part of her youth.

These three regions were, for many of her works, a source of inspiration and profound influence. Many features characteristic of them appear in her work: driftwood carried by the Rhône and thrown up on the beach of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer ('Mountain'), olive branches ('Man-Forest'), insects ('Mantis', 'Grasshopper' etc. ...), tools used to cultivate the soil ('Trio'), objects of Provençal folklore ('Ant' and 'Tauromachy', with heads made out of the three-pronged goads used by the 'guardians' who look after the wild horses and bulls of the Camargue), and many more. The same is true of her prints and drawings.

This sculpture was modelled in clay, then cast in plaster. The bronzes were made from the plaster by the lost wax process in an edition of six, plus four artist's proofs marked HC1, HC2, HC3 and EA. One of the other casts is in the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.629-30, reproduced p.629


Explore