Jacques Lipchitz

David and Goliath

1933, cast 1963

Not on display

Jacques Lipchitz 1891–1973
Original title
David et Goliath
Object: 279 × 279 × 152 mm
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982

Catalogue entry

T03515 David and Goliath 1933 
Plaster 11 × 11 × 6 (279 × 279 × 152)
Not inscribed
Presented by the Lipchitz Foundation 1982
Lit: Arnason 1969, repr.99 (bronze); Lipchitz 1972, pp.127 and 131–2

Arnason reproduces four sketches for this subject, including this one and T03415. A large plaster, 30 ins. high, was exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1934 (Maurice Raynal, Lipchitz, 1947, n.p., repr.). This plaster was one of the most explicit of Lipchitz's references to the Nazis, as the figure of Goliath had a swastika inscribed on his chest (not visible in Raynal's illustration) and the Old Testament subject makes clear that it was the Jews who were retaliating.

During 1933 I had designed a series of maquettes on the theme of David and Goliath that were specifically related to my hatred of fascism and my conviction that the David of freedom would triumph over the Goliath of oppression. In the first of the four remaining maquettes (1933) David stands over the recumbent Goliath, twisting a cord around his neck. In the subsequent sketches, the figures are reversed, with the huge Goliath rising up vertically and David pulling back with all his strength on the great cable cord which he has twisted around the throat of the giant. The final sketch, placing the figures on a column, reduces the size of the giant to a more human scale. The two figures straining mightily against one another establish a terrific state of tension. The project was executed on a somewhat larger scale and the plaster was exhibited in 1934 at the Salon des Surindépendants. I wished there to be no doubt about my intent so I placed a swastika on the chest of Goliath. The statue cost me considerable difficulty with German agents who in the guise of art critics began to show intense interest in visiting and examining my studio. However, it remained unharmed in the basement of the Musée National d'Art Moderne during the entire German occupation (Lipchitz, loc.cit.).

The group shows David pulling a noose around the neck of Goliath from behind, which the giant tries with both hands to tear off. This is a variation of the story in the Bible, in which David cuts off his head.

This plaster is listed in the accounts of the Modern Art Foundry, New York, for 1 February 1963.

[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

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