Andrew O’Connor

The Golden Head


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Not on display

Andrew O’Connor 1874–1941
Object: 359 × 249 × 292 mm
Purchased 1934

Display caption

O'Connor was an American sculptor who specialised in funerary and public monuments, and portrait busts. He lived in Paris from 1903 to 1914 where he came under the influence of Rodin and Dalou. This head is an idealised portrait of O'Connor's second wife Jessie, who was the model for many of his sculptures. A version of this head crowns the funerary figure in the monument to General Thomas in Sleep Hollow cemetery, near Tarrytown, New York. This funerary figure is a seated female shown in an attitude of mourning and reflection.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Andrew O'Connor 1874-1941

N04730 The Golden Head 1905

Inscribed 'THIS | RECUEILLEMENT | WAS MADE BY O'CONNOR | 1905' l. side
Bronze, 14 1/8 x 11 x 11 1/2 (36 x 28 x 29) on stone base; height including base 18 5/8 (47.3)
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid 'T' Fund) 1934
Lit: William Walton, 'Andrew O'Connor, Sculptor' in Scribner's Magazine, XLV, 1909, p.640; Hélène Desmaroux, L'Oeuvre du Sculpteur O'Connor (Paris 1927), pp.34, 45, 78-9, 95, repr. p.44 as 'Recueillement' 1903; Edouard-Joseph, Dictionnaire Biographique des Artistes Contemporains 1910-30 (Paris 1934), Vol.3, pp.85-6; Homan Potterton in exh. catalogue Andrew O'Connor 1874-1941, Trinity College, Dublin, September 1974, pp.11, 17-18, 47, repr. p.50
Repr: Studio, CXIV, 1937, p.80

A version of the head which crowns the figure in the monument to General Thomas in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, near Tarrytown, New York. This monument, which was made in 1903-5, depicts a seated female figure ('Recueillement') in an attitude of mourning and reflection, with her hands on her knees. According to Desmaroux, the wealthy patron who commissioned the monument wished O'Connor to substitute a head that was less sombre, but the sculptor refused to make any concession.

The head was an idealised portrait of the artist's second wife Jessie, who was the model for numerous sculptures, both female and male. Another cast, with a different base, is in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin under the title 'The Golden Mask', while a preliminary study for the head in plaster 19cm high, known as 'La Penseuse' (The Thinker), still belongs to the O'Connor family.

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.566-7, reproduced p.566

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