Henri Laurens

Bather (Fragment)

1931, ?later cast

Not on display

Henri Laurens 1885–1954
Original title
Baigneuse (Fragment)
Object: 571 × 670 × 362 mm, 36 kg
Purchased 1960

Display caption

Laurens’s early sculpture was Cubist in spirit, with hard edges and angles. Gradually his work acquired a softer, more rounded nature until by the 1930s his figures were large and luxuriant in form. This sculpture is the upper part of Reclining Woman, a full length reclining female nude of 1931. The Reclining Woman was sent to the bronze foundry for a cast to be made from the original clay and the cast was damaged. Laurens salvaged the upper half and transformed it into this self-sufficient fragment.

Gallery label, November 2011

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Catalogue entry

Henri Laurens 1885-1954

T00361 Baigneuse (Fragment) (Bather (Fragment)) 1931

Inscribed 'HL [monogram] 2/6' and founder's stamp 'CIRE | C. VALSUANI | PERDUE' on lower part of back
Bronze, 22 1/2 x 26 3/8 x 144 (57 x 67 x 36)
Purchased from the O'Hana Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1960
Prov: With Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris; with O'Hana Gallery, London, 1960
Exh: Summer Exhibition, O'Hana Gallery, London, June-September 1960 (22, repr.)
Repr: René Huyghe (ed.), Larousse Encyclopedia of Modern Art (London 1965), pl.870; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery (London 1966), p.263; Werner Hofmann and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, The Sculpture of Henri Laurens (New York 1970), detail repr. p.135

This work is the upper part of 'Reclining Woman', a full-length reclining figure of 1931 (repr. Cahiers d'Art, 1932, pp.52-3). The artist's son Claude Laurens explains (letter of 3 April 1973): 'It was following a disastrous mistake by the founder ... who completely botched his cast, that my father saved the torso of his bather and transformed it to obtain this perfectly balanced piece of sculpture.'

In addition to the standard edition of six bronzes, plus an artist's cast, an extra cast has been made for presentation to the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris as part of the Laurens Gift and marked with the letters M.N. (Musées Nationaux).

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, p.410, reproduced p.410


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