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Duck, 1914

Duck is an example of Gaudier’s use of direct carving in stone, one of the cornerstones of modernist sculpture. He started to experiment with the technique in late 1912, following a meeting with the sculptor Jacob Epstein. By 1914 he was fully committed to it, but he was rarely able to afford good pieces of stone. He often had to rely on off-cuts given by Aristide Fabrucci (the sculptor who worked in the studio next to his) or even theft from local stonemason yards. The small scale of Duck suggests that it may have been fashioned from such an off-cut.

Moreover the speed of execution allowed by such small works suited Gaudier’s relentless creativity. Drawing inspiration from exquisitely carved small artefacts from China and Oceania, he made a number of ‘pocket sculptures’ for his friends.

Sculpture [HGB 12]



65 x 120 x 40 mm

About the artist

Henri Gaudier was born in St. Jean de Braye, near Orleans, in France. He first came to Britain in 1908. He met Sophie Brzeska while working as a student in the evenings at Ste. Genevieve Library in Paris in 1910. In the same year he left France under a cloud of social hostility and settled in England adding the name Brzeska to his own soon after. He worked in isolation until he met Middleton Murray in 1912, whereafter he built up a circle of artists and intellectuals which included Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis and T. E. Hulme. He became involved in Pound's and Lewis' Vorticist group, contributing to the two issues of their magazine Blast. Gaudier was killed in action during the First World War in Belgium.