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Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) was one of the leading figures of European avant-garde sculpture. Gaudier played an important role in the development of modern sculpture in Britain, working alongside Ezra Pound, Jacob Epstein, Roger Fry, Wyndham Lewis and others. Like many artists of his generation, his career was tragically cut short by the war. Having volunteered for the French army in the summer of 1914, he was killed in action the following year, at the age of just twenty-three.
Gaudier’s marble “Dog” dates to mid-1914 and was one of his last works. Gaudier compresses the mass of the animal into two main areas of form, the head and the body, in a manner which relates closely to his other works. After the original was damaged in 1961, Jim Ede commissioned twelve bronze casts from the Fiorini & Carney Foundry in London.
“It might be thought simple to make a sculpture like “Dog” by H. Gaudier-Brzeska, but so far as I know no one had done so in the whole world of sculpture, nor is it like any other sculptor’s work. It is essentially sculpture and at the same time is deeply realistic. I have known a child take it to bed instead of his “Teddy Bear’. (Jim Ede 1984 A Way of Life).
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Dimensions: (L)190 x (H)90 x (W)55 mm
“Duck” (1914) is an example of the small-scale informal carvings that Gaudier made when he was short of materials. Financial circumstances would often leave him without stone to carve. Then he would rely on off-cuts from Aristide Fabrucci (the Italian sculptor who had a studio next to his on the Fulham Road), or on gifts, or on theft from local mason’s yards. The small scale and simple rendition of the Duck’s body suggest that it may have been fashioned from such an off-cut.
Gaudier’s practice of making hand-held sculptures for his friends may have resulted from these restrictions. Duck displays Gaudier’s affection for animals, but like similar pieces by the sculptor its shape and angularity suggest that it might have been conceived almost as a “pocket weapon”. The body of the bird is geometrically simplified, with a triangle emphasising the shape of the tail and an incised circle describing the eye.
Jim Ede acquired the original green marble Duck in 1927. In the mid-1960s he commissioned twelve bronze casts from the Fiorini & Carney Foundry in London. Only one of them remains at Kettle’s Yard; it has been used by Alistair Burgass to make new moulds for the production of these crystacal casts.
For more information on Duck click here.
To see more information on Henri Gaudier-Brzeska from the Kettle’s Yard database click here.
Actual size replica
Dimensions: 120mm x 65mm x 40mm