19 August 2016
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Dog, 1914
“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 in A Way of Life
Who was Henri Gaudier-Brzeska?
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) was one of the leading figures of European avant-garde sculpture. He 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.
About this work
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. The carving relates to an early satirical drawing ‘Woman and dog’. It humorously undermines the odd appearance of the dog, thought to be a dachshund. After the original was damaged in 1961, Jim Ede commissioned twelve bronze casts from the Fiorini & Carney Foundry in London.
Why is it at Kettle’s Yard?
Gaudier left his estate to his partner Sophie Brzeska and after she died 13 oil paintings, 25 sculptures and 1630 drawings fell to the nation. In 1926 the estate was offered by the Treasury to the National Gallery of British Art (later Tate), whose director Charles Aitken was unenthusiastic about it. The Board and The Contemporary Art Society selected some works and the rest was offered to dealers for a relatively small sum. Aitken’s assistant was Kettle’s Yard creator Jim Ede, who was asked to deal with the disposal of what remained of the estate. Jim made an offer for it and the sale was agreed in October 1927 for the sum of £60 (which was about a third of Ede’s annual income). He acquired 19 sculptures, 13 oils and pastels and nearly 1600 drawings, plus sketchbooks and correspondence – and later copyright. Ede did all in his power to champion Gaudier’s work, most notably by writing a biography ‘Savage Messiah’ based on Gaudier’s correspondence and later through the opening of Kettle’s Yard itself. Kettle’s Yard is home to one of the largest collections of drawings and sculptures by the artist.
Where can I see it?
This work is currently on show at The Hepworth Wakefield, find out more.
Can I buy one?
Replicas of the dog are available in our online shop, click here or call 01223 748100