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Elie Nadelman (1882-1946)
Property from the Estate of Professor Leland R. Phelps
Elie Nadelman (1882-1946)

Resting Stag

Details
Elie Nadelman (1882-1946)
Resting Stag
signed 'E. NADELMAN' (along the base)
bronze with dark green patina
16 ½ in. (41.9 cm) high on a ¾ in. (1.9 cm.) marble base
Modeled circa 1916-17.
Provenance
The artist.
Drs. Frank and Wally Hackett, Riverdale, New York, gift from the above, circa 1939.
Gift to the late owner from the above, 1972.
Literature
"The Sculpture of Elie Nadelman," Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts of the City of Detroit, vol. 1, no. 5, February 1920, pp. 73, 75, another example illustrated.
B.G. Proske, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, 1968, pp. 279-80, another example illustrated.
L. Kirstein, Elie Nadelman, New York, 1973, pp. 305-06, no. 188, pl. 56, another example illustrated.
Whitney Museum of American Art, The Sculpture and Drawings of Elie Nadelman, 1882-1946, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1975, p. 55, no. 48, another example referenced.
A.H. Mayor, W.H. Rawls, A Century of American Sculpture: Treasures from Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, 1981, p. 66, another example illustrated.
Whitney Museum of American Art, Art in Place: Fifteen Years of Acquisitions, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1989, p. 56, another example as frontispiece illustration.
S.C. Faxon, A. Berman, J. Reynolds, Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years, A Selective Catalogue, Andover, Massachusetts, 1996, p. 438, another example referenced.
Smith College, Smith College Museum of Art: European and American Painting and Sculpture 1760-1960, Northampton, Massachusetts, 2000, pp. 204-05, another example illustrated.
B. Haskell, Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2003, pp. 88, 212, fig. 99, another example illustrated.
Museum of Fine Arts, American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Boston, Massachusetts, 2006, p. 182, another example illustrated.
I.H. Shoemaker, Adventures in Modern Art: The Charles K. Williams II Collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2009, p. 218, another example referenced.
National Sporting Library & Museum, Afield in America: 400 Years of Animal & Sporting Art, exhibition catalogue, Middleburg, Virginia, 2011, p. 169, no. 137, another example illustrated.

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Elizabeth Beaman
Elizabeth Beaman

Lot Essay

In the early years of the twentieth century, Elie Nadelman developed a highly sophisticated style that reflected his very personal notions about form and volume. His general approach was to create an uncomplicated connection of curves and forms with little ornamentation and detail. With his characteristic economy of detail, in Resting Stag, Nadelman conveys the grace and purity of the deer. The composition is beautifully balanced, with each limb and movement counter-balanced by its opposite. The stag's neck curves down, drawing its head to its hind leg, while the animal's tongue gracefully grazes its daintily raised slender leg. The animal's left legs are extended in support, while its right legs are carefully tucked underneath. The curved antlers echo the turns in the animal's body, and their jagged surface provides a stark, bold contrast to the polished finish of the rest of the bronze. Indeed, Resting Stag demonstrates the "full, delicately rounded forms that characterize [Nadelman's] mature style." (W. Craven, Sculpture in America, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1968, p. 589)

Nadelman, whose name is closely associated with the inception of modern art in the United States, had strong convictions about the essence of creation, and the meaning behind his art. When asked to explain his work, he went straight to the crux of his philosophy: "But what is this true form of art? It is significant and abstract, i.e., composed of geometrical elements. Here is how I realize it. I employ no other line than the curve, which possesses freshness and force. I compose these curves so as to bring them in accord or in opposition to one another. In that way I obtain the life of form, i.e., harmony. In that way I intend that the life of the work should come from within itself. The subject of any work of art is for me nothing but a pretext for creating significant form, relations of forms which create a new life that has nothing to do with life in nature, a life from which art is born, and from which spring style and unity. From significant form comes style, from relations form, i.e., the necessity of playing one form against another, comes unity. I leave it to others to judge the importance of so radical a change in the means used to create a work of art." (as quoted in L. Kirstein, Elie Nadelman, New York, 1973, p. 265)

Nadelman's highly structured theories of art and his powerfully spare sculpture had a subtle influence over many American sculptors of the modern movement. Wayne Craven credited Nadelman for contributing to "the emancipation of the American sculptor from the academic tradition." (Sculpture in America, p. 591) His influence was vast on artists and art collectors alike. While living in Paris, Nadelman became acquainted with many of the figures on the forefront of the modern art movement, including Gertrude and Leo Stein, Pablo Picasso and Constantine Brancusi. In addition, his most celebrated patron was Helena Rubenstein, and he was also close to Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

The present cast of Resting Stag was gifted by the artist to Frank Hackett, the beloved founder and headmaster of Riverdale Country School which Nadelman's son attended, and his wife Wally Reichenberg-Hackett. Wally later became a celebrated psychology professor at Duke University, where she met the late owner Professor Leland R. Phelps.

Other examples of this sculpture are in notable public collections, including Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, Michigan; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

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