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Baigneuse III

Baigneuse III
signed, numbered and marked with the artist's thumbprint 'J Lipchitz 4⁄7' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 28 1⁄8 in. (71.4 cm.) including base
Conceived in stone in 1917 and later cast in bronze in a numbered edition of 7
Otto Gerson Gallery, New York, by whom acquired directly from the artist.
Private collection, Hastings, USA, by 1958; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 13 November 1996, lot 303.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
M. Raynal, Lipchitz, Paris, 1920, p. 13 (stone version illustrated).
R. Vitrac, Jacques Lipchitz, Paris, 1929, p. 33 (stone version illustrated).
A. M. Hammacher, Jacques Lipchitz: His Sculpture, London, 1960, pp. 170 & 172 (stone version illustrated figs. XXVII & nos. 16 - 18, pp. 37, 104 & 105).
B. van Bork, Jacques Lipchitz, The Artist at Work, New York, 1966, p. 92 (another cast illustrated).
P. Wittlich, Jacques Lipchitz, Prague, 1966, p. 57 (stone version illustrated fig. 7b).
D. A. Stott, Jacques Lipchitz and Cubism, New York, 1975 (other versions illustrated figs. 27, 28 & 29, pp. 285 & 286).
A. M. Hammacher, Jacques Lipchitz, New York, 1975, nos. 73 - 75 (stone versions illustrated).
A. G. Wilkinson, Jacques Lipchitz, A Life in Sculpture, exh cat., Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1989, no. 23, pp. 82 & 83 (another cast illustrated p. 82).
A. G. Wilkinson, The Sculpture of Jacques Lipchitz: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, The Paris Years, 1910-1940, New York, 1996, no. 62, pp. 47, 147 & 216 (another cast illustrated pp. 47 & 147; stone version illustrated p. 47).
C. Pütz, Jacques Lipchitz, The First Cubist Sculptor, London, 2002, fig. 14, pp. 21 & 22 (another cast illustrated p. 22).
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Jacques Lipchitz, March - May 1958, no. 19; this exhibition later travelled to Otterlo, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, May - July 1958; Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, August - September 1958; Dortmund, Museum Ostwall, October - December 1958; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, January - February 1959.
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Jacques Lipchitz, May - June 1959, no. 19, pl. IV.
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, The Museum of our Wishes, December 1963 - February 1964, no. 52, p. 29 (illustrated; dated '1917-18').

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Interim Head of Department

Lot Essay

The bather was one of Jacques Lipchitz’s primary motifs. Not only did it provide him a subject rich with art historical meaning, it was a perfect vehicle for his cubist explorations of form and space. The leading cubist sculptor of the time, Lipchitz used the pictorial vocabulary of the radical art movement, namely the deconstruction and analysis of objects, space and volume, and applied it to sculpture, breaking mass down into a composite structure of forms. Conceived in 1917, Baigneuse III dates from an important period in Lipchitz’s career, when he was imbuing his geometric constructions with a sense of twisting movement and a greater human presence. Baigneuse III is one of an edition of seven. Other casts can be found in the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena. A stone version of this motif is in the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.

In 1917, Lipchitz created a series of bathers, including the present work, describing in detail their development: ‘In the next three pieces, two bathers and a singer with guitar, all made in 1917, I am consolidating some of the ideas involved in this new phase. In all three there is the sense of twisting movement, of the figure spiralling around its axis. There is the massive monumentality I was now seeking… They represent some of my first findings in this direction, the moment at which I began to sense the possibilities of sculpture as a truly monumental form of expression. All three are intricate works, highly complex in the manner in which the figures are built up of many interacting elements, but all still maintaining the rigid control of the block of stone. I was seeking effects that were both rich in their complexity and controlled in their simplicity. Once again I believe that these figures evoke the living human figure into which the forms were translated, while maintaining the purity of those forms’ (My Life in Sculpture, London, 1973, pp. 46-49).

It was to the past that Lipchitz looked in the creation of the 1917 Bathers group. As Lipchitz wrote, ‘The bathers, observed from different angles, are even reminiscent of traditional portraits of bathers as seen in the history of sculpture from ancient times through the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries’ (ibid., p. 49). Inspired by classical French eighteenth-century art, including Antoine Watteau’s Judgement of Paris, and the sculpture of Etienne Falconet, Lipchitz imbued his work with a sense of vitality.

The present work is the ‘most accomplished’ of this series, Catherine Pütz has written. ‘Viewed individually, the segments that build the figure are more “abstract” than those Lipchitz had formed previously… Their sequence is so carefully balanced, linked by a continuous train of light delineating a bending knee or a raised arm, that our overall impression is of a classically figurative rather than a modernist image’ (Jacques Lipchitz: The First Cubist Sculptor, London, 2002, pp. 21-23). The nuance of the patina of this work also contributes to the sense of shimmering light and movement, lending the piece a delicacy of form that belies the weighty materiality of its bronze forms.

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