Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Crouching Fawn

1913, posthumous cast

Not on display

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska 1891–1915
Painted plaster
Object: 254 × 305 × 127 mm
Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983

Display caption

The motif of an animal seated with legs tightly folded underneath it is suggestive of Chinese animal figure carvings. This particular piece, however, was based on one of a group of pen drawings of fawns made by Gaudier-Brzeska in the same day. It is a plaster cast of a sculpture in Bath stone which was one of several carvings exhibited by Gaudier at the second Grafton Group Show at the Alpine Gallery in January 1914.

Gallery label, September 2004

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

T03729 Crouching Fawn 1914

Plaster, painted brown 10 × 12 × 5 (254 × 305 × 127)
Not inscribed
Transferred from the Victoria and Albert Museum 1983
Prov: ...; Leicester Galleries after 1918; presented by Messrs E. Brown and Phillips (The Leicester Galleries) to the Victoria and Albert Museum 1939 (A. 26–1939)
Exh: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891–1915) Sculptures, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, August–September 1972, City Art Gallery, Leeds, September–October 1972, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, October–November 1972 (34); Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Sculptor 1891–1915, Kettle's Yard Gallery, Cambridge, October–November 1983, City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol, November 1983–January 1984, York City Art Gallery, January–February 1984 (51)
Lit: Ezra Pound, Gaudier-Brzeska, a Memoir, 1916, p.161 (stone version repr.pl.ix); H.S. Ede, A Life of Gaudier-Brzeska, 1930, pp.170 and 198 (stone version repr. pl.xxvi as ‘Seated Fawn’); Roger Cole, Burning to Speak. The Life and Art of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Oxford, 1978, p.91 (repr.); Judith Collins, The Omega Workshops, 1983, p.70

T03729 is a unique plaster cast. Although the Leicester Galleries acquired it sometime after 1918 there are no records indicating exactly when the cast was made. T03729 is a plaster cast of a work in Bath stone. According to a relative of the owner of the stone version the plaster cast was made in the twenties (letter to the compiler 16 November 1983). The stone version was listed by Gaudier as having been sold to Mrs Mayor of Campden Hill, probably through the Omega Workshops since the symbol of the Omega is placed next to it. Cole, however, suggests that Mrs Mayor's carving ‘was worked to the design of the plaster’. This seems less likely than that the plaster was made at the time of making the bronze casts. In 1913 Gauider concentrated primarily on carving stone and the sculpture has the crispness of a carving rather than the appearance of a work modelled in clay. The original carving sustained damage to one ear and, according to the correspondent cited above, although it has been mended, the break remains visible. The carving is now in a private collection.

The dating of the original marble and stone versions of T03728 and T03729 by Cole to 1913 is disputed by Jeremy Lewison in the catalogue of the exhibition held at Kettle's Yard Gallery. Lewison states that in his list of works Gaudier clearly records that the fawn sold to Drey (T03728) was executed in 1913 whereas the stone fawn sold to Mayor (T03729) was made in 1914. Cole dates Drey's work to 1913 and T03729, which he considers preceded Mayor's stone version, also to 1913. Given the argument that the plaster succeeded the Bath stone carving it is arguable that one should not doubt Gaudier's dating. The issue is further complicated, however, by the fact that the sizes of the sculptures, as recorded by Gaudier, do not fully coincide with those of the works under discussion but this may be accounted for by the fact that Gaudier compiled his list from memory. Therefore the recorded sizes were probably approximations. Finally, according to Collins, the fawn belonging to Mrs Mayor was exhibited (47) at the Second Grafton Group exhibition at the Alpine Club Gallery which opened on 2 January 1914, the same exhibition in which he exhibited the ‘Red Stone Dancer’ (N04515) for the first time, a work which is accepted as dating from 1914. If this is correct then ‘Fawn Crouching’ was probably completed at the very end of 1913 or beginning of 1914 and Gaudier chose to record it as being made in 1914. There is some doubt, however, as to whether the fawn exhibited was this particular one since Brodzky, whose account of Gaudier's life is admittedly highly inaccurate, records that the fawn exhibited was purchased by Princess Lichnowsky (p.176). Pound, however, states that ‘A Faun, [sic] crouching, [was] sold at Alpine Club Show several years ago’ thereby describing the kind of fawn exhibited. He also stated that the fawn in question was reproduced in his Memoir (pl.ix), which is indeed ‘Fawn Crouching’. Pound's ‘Partial Catalogue of the Sculptures’, however, is unreliable in many respects and therefore the statement above cannot be accepted with complete confidence.

Gaudier's fawn carvings were characterised by Brodzky as ‘Chinese’ for he felt they had been inspired by Chinese carvings in the British Museum. He wrote that ‘In no sense is the “Fawn” academic or realistic; it is a summary - like the Chinese - of a beautiful creature expressed by the simplest means’. Fauchereau, on the other hand, claims that the fawns ‘are stylised with a tenderness which has more in common with the work of fashionable contemporary animalists’, although he implies that the ‘rather daring simplifications ... of the eyes and hooves’ owe something to Gallo-Roman sculpture on display during Gaudier's youth at the Municipal Museum, Orléans (Kettle's Yard Gallery exhibition catalogue, p.13).

The stone version of T03729 was exhibited in the Memorial exhibition (94), as ‘A Little Fawn’. T03729 was previously catalogued as 6094 and described, in error, as having been transferred to the Tate Gallery in 1952 (see above).

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


You might like

In the shop