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Samson and Delilah (Embracers), 1913

The subject of this sculpture comes from the Old Testament. Samson was a man of enormous strength, and an enemy of the Philistines. When he fell in love with Delilah, the Philistines bribed her into discovering that his strength resided in his hair. One night, while Samson was asleep, she helped the Philistines shave the hair off, so that he could be captured and blinded.

Gaudier’s rendition of the story focuses on a moment of tenderness between man and woman, rather than on the gruesome ending; tellingly, the work is alternatively known as The Embracers. The sculptor’s carving skills are here pushed to the limit: the thin, top-heavy stone, which would have been prone to split, is handled with great ability, demonstrating the rapid progress he had made after only a few months of practice.

Sculpture [HGB 21]


Plaster cast

725 x 190 x 120 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.