About this lot


Duck, bronze, originally conceived in marble in 1914 and cast in bronze in 1964-68 in an edition of 12, and one further cast in lead on behalf of H.S. (Jim) Ede 12 cm long

Footnote: Provenance: The Peter Simpson Collection, probably acquired directly from Jim Ede Literature: A. Hammacher, Modern English Sculpture, London, 1967, p. 54, another cast illustrated. R. Cork, Vorticism and Abstract Art in the First Machine Age, Volume II, Synthesis and Decline, London, 1976, pp. 433-34, marble illustrated. R. Cole, Burning to Speak, The Life and Art of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Oxford, 1978, p. 108, pl. 55, another cast illustrated. R. Cole, Gaudier Brzeska Artist and Myth, Bristol, 1995, pl. 32, another cast illustrated. E. Silber, Gaudier-Brzeska: Life and Art, London, 1996, p. 272, no. 90, pl. 132, marble illustrated. Born in 1891 in Saint Jean-de-Braye, France, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s life was tragically brief, dying in the trenches in 1915, aged only 23. However, as a founding member of the London Group, a leading proponent of Vorticism and abstract sculpture, and as, perhaps, the most instrumental figure in exporting Modern Art to the United Kingdom, Gaudier-Brzeska’s life cannot be defined only by its appalling brevity, but also by his outstanding legacy and contributions to art in the 20th century. In 1912, two years after his move to London, a seismic shift took place in Gaudier-Brzeska’s life when he met one of his greatest influences, Jacob Epstein. After meeting Epstein, Gaudier-Brezeska’s work became increasingly influenced by non-Western art and artefacts, specifically those of Pacific Island, West African, Indian, and Assyrian cultures, and away from the dominating influence of Greek sculpture. Cast between 1964 and 1968 from an original model carved directly from marble in 1914, the present lot was one of a number of ‘pocket sculptures’ carved by Gaudier-Brzeska very shortly before he enlisted in the French Army. Composed from simple geometric forms abstracted from both the natural and mechanical world, the head for example resembles a hammer and the tail an arrowhead. Duck is reflective not only of Gaudier-Brzeska’s artistic concerns and influences, but also of the wider social context of life in an increasingly industrial world.

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