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Gaston Lachaise (1882-1935)
Bas-relief (Woman)
inscribed 'G. LACHAISE' and 'ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N-Y-' (on the lower edge)--inscribed '36' (on the reverse)
bronze with golden-brown patina
14¾ x 5 in. (37.5 x 12.7 cm.)
Modeled circa 1913.
Emmanuel Centore, circa 1919.
Sale: Bailly-Hertz & Associés, Metz, France, 23 May 2010.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.

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Bridget Young
Bridget Young

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Lot Essay

This bronze plaque, depicting a rapturous female nude, is a unique cast. It is one of a group of bas-reliefs made by Gaston Lachaise between 1906, the year in which he immigrated from France to the United States, and 1917, the year in which he acquired United States citizenship, married Isabel Dutaud Nagle (1872-1957), and completed preparations for the exhibition of his work to be held at the Bourgeois Galleries, New York City, in early 1918. The reliefs, like many of his other sculptures, were inspired by his beloved, and were intended to suggest fundamental, life-enhancing forces by means of a mature woman's body.

The plaster model for the plaque was probably made around the same time as the full-scale model-in-progress for Lachaise's early masterwork, Standing Woman (Elevation), documented by photographs taken by the artist in 1913 (cf. V. Budny, "Gaston Lachaise's American Venus: The Genesis and Evolution of Elevation," American Art Journal, vols. 34-35, 2003-2004, p. 85, figure 19). The model for the plaque was very likely cast in bronze in preparation for the 1918 Bourgeois Galleries show, but whether the bronze was ever exhibited by Lachaise is unknown.

The bronze plaque was acquired--evidently directly from Lachaise--by the French artist Emmanuel Centore (b. 1886) by 1925, at the latest, and probably as early as 1919. Centore, a friend of Lachaise's friend Albert Gleizes (1881-1953), had come to the United States in January 1917, together with his father, Edouard, his wife, Jeanne Taillefesse (a sister of the French composer Germaine Tailleferre), and the couple's five-year-old daughter, Denise. Both Emmanuel and Denise--a child prodigy and future historian--exhibited works at the Bourgeois Galleries when Lachaise was also exhibiting there, and Lachaise is known to have possessed two of Denise's early paintings (see E. E. Cummings, "Gaston Lachaise," Dial, vol. 68, no. 2, February 1920, p. 199).

The Lachaise Foundation, Boston, has given the number 311 to this plaque. The plaster model was lost by 1925.

We are grateful to Virginia Budny for her assistance in preparing the catalogue entry for this work.

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