POUND, Ezra Weston Loomis (1885-1972)--Henri GAUDIER-BRZESKA (1891-1915). 'Ezra Pound'. Brush and ink drawing on paper, the sheet 384 x 256mm, framed and glazed. (A few light spots and creases, 2 shorts tears, c.5 and 12mm.) Provenance: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (inkstamp 'Gaudier Brzeska E' on verso of drawing)--Sophie Brzeska (1873-1925, her estate, which reverted to the State; acquired in 1926 [or 1927] by)--Harold Stanley ['Jim'] Ede (1895-1990, autograph note signed by Ede on backboard recording his acquisition of the drawing)--Quentin Keynes. Exhibited: Kettle's Yard, Cambridge Henri Gaudier-Brzeska Sculptor 1891-1915, 1983, no.73 (illustrated p.53)--The Tate Gallery, London Pound's Artists, 1985.
A STUDY FOR GAUDIER-BRZESKA'S 'HEIRATIC HEAD OF EZRA POUND'. Pound and Gaudier-Brzeska met in 1913 at the Allied Artists Association Exhibition and swiftly formed a close friendship, based on a mutual recognition of the other's talents and modernist aesthetics. Gaudier-Brzeska's sculpture 'The Heiratic Head of Ezra Pound' was a commission from Pound, and work on it commenced in early 1914 (recorded in Benington's photographs in lot 759). This image is one of a small series of finished drawings, executed in ink with a brush, that either preceded or accompanied the work on the sculpture, and is possibly the closest in plastic conception to the finished bust. Other examples from the series are held at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge and Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris; the latter, depicting Pound in profile, was used as a frontispiece for some of his books (e.g. Lustra (New York: 1917, cf. lot 763), and also for his Rapallo writing paper. The Chinese brush technique that Gaudier-Brzeska employed for these drawings was particularly apposite as it reflects most elegantly Pound's interest in Chinese poetry and thought, and, in turn, its influence upon him (expressed in works such as his collection Cathay, which Gaudier-Breska refers to in his letter of 27 December 1914, lot 761). Indeed, it can be posited that no other artist depicted Pound so perceptively as Gaudier-Brzeska did in this series: the drawings were executed with 'the cursive clarity, gestural energy and formal balance of Chinese calligraphy, but also with an expansiveness which spills over the edges of the paper. Pound's rather narrow eyes and level brows metamorphose into a sign reminiscent of a Chinese ideogram, the nose is narrowed and lengthened, the mass of bushy auburn hair and moustache acquire a geometric clarity and his neat goatee takes on a life of its own' (E. Silber Gaudier-Brzeska. Life and Art (London: 1996), p.130). At the outbreak of the Great War, Gaudier-Brzeska enlisted in the French army; he was killed in action on 5 June 1915, at the age of 23. Pound became the artist's greatest champion in the years following his death, publishing Gaudier-Brzeska in 1916, and promoting his work in articles, exhibitions and books. Gaudier-Brzeska's death also provided a specific focus for Pound's responses to the Great War; it embodied the futility of the War's carnage, and he returns to it throughout his poetry, considering and re-interpreting it within both general and specific contexts--with a grave fury in Hugh Selwyn Mauberley ('There died a myriad, , And of the best, among them, , For an old bitch gone in the teeth, , For a botched civilisation' or with a sarcastic mock-jocularity in Canto XVI ('And Henri Gaudier went to it, , and they killed him, , And killed a good deal of sculpture').