We are grateful to Virginia Budny, author of the forthcoming catalogue raisonné sponsored by the Lachaise Foundation, for her assistance in preparing the following catalogue entry for this work.
Gaston Lachaise’s statuette of a nude woman astride a horse—aptly characterized by A.E. Gallatin as “a beautiful series of curves” (Gaston Lachaise, New York, 1924, p. 14)—was evidently inspired by a delightful childhood memory of a circus performer. According to Lachaise, the sculpture was modeled in 1917, not, as is often stated, 1918 (the date inscribed on the model). The first bronze was produced for Lachaise’s show in February 1918 at the Bourgeois Galleries, New York. The second, formerly owned by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, was produced in 1923. The whereabouts of those casts is unknown. Eleven other casts are known to have been made during Lachaise’s lifetime. Six, including the present example, are presently located; the other five are in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (Corcoran Collection, Gift of the Honorable Francis Biddle), the San Diego Museum of Art, California (Bequest of Earle W. Grant), and three private collections.
Ten of the thirteen lifetime casts were produced in 1930–31 by the Roman Bronze Works for Erhard Weyhe, owner of the Weyhe Gallery, New York. The first was delivered to Weyhe in September 1930. Nine others were ordered in the same month and delivered to him in April 1931. (Six were returned to the foundry for repair and refinishing in April 1936, six months after Lachaise’s unexpected death.) The first four digits of the number recorded on the undersides of both the present bronze and the San Diego example correspond to the foundry order number for the group of nine casts, and thus indicate their early history. (The other four lifetime casts that are presently located are also demonstrably among those made for Weyhe, although at least three of them lack an inscribed order number.)
After Lachaise’s death, his widow, Isabel Dutaud Lachaise (1872–1957), authorized a small number of casts. The Lachaise Foundation (established in 1963) has issued an edition of three Estate casts and an artist’s proof. Although exhibited in 1918 as Amazone (the dealer’s name), Lachaise himself referred to the work as Woman on Horseback. It is now known as Equestrienne (and occasionally as Lady Godiva).