Henri Laurens (1885-1954)
Henri Laurens (1885-1954)

Petit caryatid

Details
Henri Laurens (1885-1954)
Petit caryatid
signed with initials, numbered and stamped with foundry mark 'HL 3/6 C. Valsuani Cire Perdue' (on the back of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 18 in. (45.7 cm.)
Conceived in 1930
Provenance
Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1966.
Literature
W. Hofmann, The Sculpture of Henri Laurens, New York, 1970, p. 218 (another cast illustrated, pl. 126; plaster version illustrated, p. 187).

Lot Essay

In Petit caryatid, Laurens exemplifies the simple grandeur of archaic sculpture. The crouching caryatid is solidly rendered, the body is compacted into a tight composition of which the head and limbs conform to the torso. A new tension is created not only from the sculpture's grand physical presence but also from the diagonal pull of the raised left arm which encompasses the head and the raised right leg which protectively enfolds the body.

Werner Hofmann explains Laurens' pictorial resolution of Petit caryatid: "The sculptural problem of the [Petit] caryatid is illuminated by the following consideration. The human body consists of head, trunk, and limbs. Taken by itself, the trunk is a circumscribed, compact volume, which is opened up and given space by the limbs. Any attempt to accentuate the closed volume without reducing it to a fragment--the torso must contain the spatial ambition of the limbs and suppress their tendency toward expansion. This means that the limbs must adapt themselves to the compact volume of the trunk" (op. cit., p. 16).

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