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Nude, 1906-26 (?)

Brancusi’s preferred method for developing sculptural ideas was modelling in clay and plaster. He rarely sketched or made studies on paper, so drawings by him are quite rare. Of the drawings which exist, it is often not clear whether they were made before or after the sculptures they refer to. These factors have contributed to a common difficulty to date the sculptor’s works on paper. Nude could have been made at any time between 1906 and 1926, when Brancusi gave it to Jim Ede.

The drawing bears some resemblance with Brancusi’s sculptural fragment Torso of 1908-09, which shows the side, hip and upper thigh of a young woman in a similar leaning pose. Torso is a small work, probably extracted from the central section of an earlier sculpture, The Prayer. The formal likeness of the Kettle’s Yard drawing with these sculptures suggests that it might date from around 1907-09. However, Brancusi worked again on the theme of the torso during the following decade, notably in 1912 and 1918, so the drawing might be later.

The ease and dexterity of the line make this a remarkable work. It may be compared favourably with a few related – and also undated – works executed with the same economy of line and simplification of detail, especially a much larger Nude in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Provenance: gift (?) of the artist to H.S. Ede, c.1926.

Drawing [CB 1]


Pen and ink on paper

314 x 240 mm

About the artist

Brancusi was born in Hobitza, Romania. In 1904 he moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life. His early work was influenced by traditional Romanian carving, but in Paris, under Rodin's influence, he gradually evolved a pure, abstract manner that strove to depict the formal essence of objects without rejecting the natural world.