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Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)
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Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)

Study for 'The Wrestlers'

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915)
Study for 'The Wrestlers'
pen, brush and black ink
16¾ x 11¾ in. (17.2 x 30 cm.)
Executed circa 1913-14.
with Ernest, Brown and Phillips.
with Leicester Galleries, London.
with Gillian Jason Gallery, London, where purchased by the present owner in October 1999.
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Lot Essay

At the time the present work was executed Gaudier had a loose association with the Omega Workshops and this would have sparked his interest in applied design. The present work is a study for Gaudier's plaster relief Wrestlers (Boston Museum of Fine Arts) and the simplification of form is apparent in this preparatory work. In the plaster work, the figures are clearly entangled with their overlapping limbs, however in this drawing, the figures seem to be interlocked harmoniously rather in deep conflict.

Gaudier was originally commissioned to produce two plaster statues by Charles Wheeler, one of a wrestler and one of a swimmer, and in preparation he went to watch wrestling, two or three evenings a week. He wrote to Sophie in 1912, 'Last night I went to see the wrestler, My God, I have seldom seen such a wonderful sight - 2 athletic types, large shoulders, taut bull necks, small in build with firm thighs and slender ankles, feet as sensitive as hands and not very tall. They fought with tremendous vivacity and vigour' (see exhibition catalogue, Sixty Drawings by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska 1891-1915, London, Mercury Gallery, 1975, p. 28).

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