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OSSIP ZADKINE (1890-1967)
This lot has no reserve. THE COLLECTION OF RENÉ GAFFÉ Property from the Estate of Madame René Gaffé
OSSIP ZADKINE (1890-1967)

L'Esclave

Details
OSSIP ZADKINE (1890-1967)
L'Esclave
pear-tree wood
Height: 69 5/8 in. (175.9 cm.)
Executed in Savoie, Château de Fiez, 1922
Provenance
Acquired from the artist by René Gaffé, December 1927.
Literature
The Artist's Handlist (Album van der Wal), no. 97 (per S. Lecombre).
"Selection", Cahier 3, 1928, p. 52 (illustrated; incorrectly dated 1926).
A. de Ridder, Zadkine, Paris, 1929, pl. 3 (illustrated)
P. Humbourg, Zadkine, Paris, 1930, p. 47 (illustrated; incorrectly dated 1925).
C. Lichtenstern, Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967), der Bildhauer und seine Ikonographie, Berlin, 1980, no. 106 (illustrated; incorrectly dated 1920).
I. Jianou, "Zadkine, l'artiste et le poète", Journal Artcurial, May 1979, no. 76 (illustrated; incorrectly dated 1920).
S. Lecombre, Ossip Zadkine, l'Oeuvre sculpté, Paris, 1994, p. 158, no. 113 (illustrated; incorrectly dated 1922-1924).
Exhibited
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Zadkine, January 1933, no. 44 (incorrectly dated 1924).
Special notice

This lot has no reserve.

Lot Essay

Like many of his contemporaries in Paris, Zadkine broke free from the academic style which prevailed at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at that time. He developed a keen interest in Archaism and African art, as evidenced in the present work, Zadkine dramatized the human form in his L'Esclave, involving it with a sense of primitive symbolism.

Between 1921 and 1924 a notable evolution became apparent in Zadkine's sculpture. During this period he increasingly turned his attention to the human form. His figures, such as the present work, display sharp planes and angular lines and he introduced a dynamic rhythm previously unseen in his works. By directly carving into stone and particularly using the medium of wood, Zadkine imbues his sculptures, as did Brancusi and Modigliani, with a purity and clarity of form. Zadkine effectively combined heavily worked surfaces with refined geometric forms to create daring vertical three-dimensional figures.

In a letter dated 16 December 1927, the artist wrote to René Gaffé with his suggestions for the display of this present sculpture (overlay):

Cher Monsieur Gaffé,

Merci pour la lettre et pour le chèque. Suis bien peiné de vous savoir encore au lit, et j'espère que tout ira pour le mieux. Le retard de la livraison de la statue est dû à mon oubli de prévenir le Centaure. Enfin, c'est fait et vous avez cette statue. 'Prossedons' avec l'acte de la naissance: C'est un 'Esclave dans un bois de poirier'. Etait taillé en 1922 en Savoie au Château de Fiez, où je me trouvais en ce moment.

'Examplaire' unique.

Voici pour le placement de la statue: étant donné la valeur de cette statue que je crois pour une 'de' plus expressives de mon oeuvre, je vous 'conseillerai' de lui commander un socle en marbre noir de la même forme et dimensions 'du' celle en bois. Ca donnera une assise d'un 'poid naissesaire' pour la statue. Un marchand--sculpteur de pierres--faiseur des tombeaux vous le fera très bien. Demandez une pierre du nom granite belge poli--une matière admirable qui rehaussera le rose du bois. Vous verrez combien vous serez content. En attendant demandez au même marchand ou à un ébéniste de vous envoyer deux ouvriers avec un marteau et des ciseaux ronds. Ils remettront la statue sur le socle en bois en 'tappant' avec le marteau sur la tige de 'fere' qui ne rentre pas dans le trou du socle, en le dirigeant vers sa destination. Avec un peu 'd'aplication' ces deux ouvriers feront ca et demandez les de 'caller' la statue une fois sur le socle, afin qu'elle reste droit. Ce petit travail d'une heure ne coute pas grand chose, mais cette petite dépense sera récupérée par l'aspect de 'l'Esclave' debout. Placez le au [sic] environs d'une fenêtre pour qu'il 'reçoit' la lumière ainsi.

Mais je pense déjà au socle en marbre noir. Ce sera beau et propre et solide. Car une statue doit être aussi solide qu'une maison! Ca vous 'coutera' 200 ou 300 fr. Mais quelle récompense.
Je vous serre la main et vous souhaite de la bonne santé.
Je vous prie de transmettre à Mme votre épouse mes meilleurs souhaits pour la nouvelle année.
Votre bien dévoué. O. Zadkine
.

English Translation:

Thank you for the letter and for the check. I am very sad to learn that you are still in bed, and hope everything will turn out for the better. The delay in delivery of the statue is due to my forgetting to advise the Centaure. Anyway, it's done and you have the statue. Let's proceed with the birth certificate: It is a 'Slave in pear tree wood'. It was carved in 1922 in Savoie at the Chateau de Fiez, where I was at the time.

Unique 'version'

Here's for the placement of the statue: considering the value of this statue, which I view as one of the most expressive ones of my work, I would 'advise' you to order for it a pedestal in black marble, of the same form and dimensions as the one in wood. It will give a foundation of a 'necessary weight' to the statue. A merchant--stone sculptor--tomb maker will do it very well for you. Ask for a type of stone called polished Belgian granite, an admirable material that will enhance the pink color of the wood. You will see how happy you will be. In the meantime, ask that same merchant or a cabinetmaker to send you two workers with a hammer and round scissors. They will place back the statue on the wood pedestal by hitting with the hammer on the iron stem that doesn't fit in the pedestal's hole, directing it towards its destination. With a little 'care' these two workers will do the job, and you can ask them to 'wedge' the statue once on the pedestal, and then keep it straight. This little job of one hour will not cost you much, but the expense will be compensated by the appearance of L'Esclave standing up. Place it close to a window so that it reacts to light.

But I already have in mind the black marble pedestal. It will be beautiful clean and solid. Because a statue must be as solid as a house! It will cost 200 or 300 francs, but what a reward. I wish you well. Please allow me to send you and your wife my best wishes for a happy new year. Your faithfully devoted. Ossip Zadkine.


The original letter from Zadkine to Gaffé will be forwarded on to the successful purchaser of this sculpture.


(fig. 1) Exerpt from a letter from Ossip Zadkine to René Gaffé illustrating the most desirable placement of the present work.
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