• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2058

    Important American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture

    4 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 130

    Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935)


    Price Realised  


    Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935)
    inscribed 'G. Lachaise' (along the base)
    bronze with verdigris patina
    20 in. (50.8 cm.) high
    Cast in 1925.

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    The present work was conceived by Gaston Lachaise in response to a demand in the mid-1920s for decorative sculptures to enliven landscaped gardens. It expresses the artist's intense interest in what he called the "mentality, personality, and character" of natural life and exhibits an unconventional approach to a light-hearted theme. Two fiercely focused trout leaping after a dragonfly (now missing) provide the surface for a calibrated dial: inscribed on the fishes' curving bodies are roman numerals to mark the hours.

    Lachaise described the sundial as a "bronze model." According to his own records, the piece was created in 1925 and delivered to his dealer, John Kraushaar, in the same year. Kraushaar's correspondence shows that it was then consigned to the Holt Gallery, New York, where it was sold to an unknown buyer before Lachaise had been able to take a cast from it. Said by Kraushaar to have been made by Lachaise himself, the bronze is unique. No plaster model exists. The belief that three other bronze casts were made is unfounded (D. Goodall, "Gaston Lachaise: Sculptor," Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1969, vol. 1, pp. 527, 560n. 153, and vol. 2, pp. 281, 492).

    The present work has been given the number 323 by the Lachaise Foundation.

    We are grateful to Virginia Budny for preparing the catalogue entry for this work.


    The artist.
    [With]C.W. Kraushaar Galleries, New York, 1925.
    [With]Holt Gallery, New York, 1925.
    Private collection, acquired from the above, September 1925.
    Private collection, Connecticut.
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.


    "The Poetry of Motion Imprisoned Forever in Bronze, By the Sculptor Gaston Lachaise, Courtesy of the C. W. Kraushaar Art Galleries," Country Life, vol. 48, no. 4, August 1925, p. 58, illustrated (as A Sun-dial).
    D. Goodall, "Gaston Lachaise, Sculptor," Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1969, vol. 1, pp. 527-28, 560n. 153; vol. 2, pp. 281-282, pl. CXXV, p. 492, illustrated (as Sun Dial, Fish Composition, 1922).
    M.H. Bogart, "American Garden Sculpture: A New Perspective," Fauns and Fountains: American Garden Statuary 1890-1930, exhibition catalogue, Southampton, New York, 1985, n.p. (as Sun Dial).
    V. Budny, "Gaston Lachaise--The Applied Arts," Sculpture Review, spring 2008, vol. 57, pp. 16, 18, 19, no. 1, illustrated (as Fish and Dragonfly, Model for a Sundial, 1925).