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Sketch of ‘Bird Swallowing a Fish’, 1914 (circa)

The two drawings of Bird Swallowing a Fish in the Kettle’s Yard collection appear to fulfil different functions. The pencil drawing belongs to a group of preparatory studies which capture the rapidity and desperation of the struggle and attempt to resolve the hectic motion into dynamic lines in preparation for the translation into sculptural forms. The ink study was probably completed after the sculpture. Jeremy Lewison suggested this ‘in view of the detailed observation and highly intricate hatching. Gaudier rarely made such detailed sketches prior to making sculpture. Further, the sculpture is seen sitting on a base which does not appear in any preliminary studies.’ (Jeremy Lewison, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Sculptor, 1891-1915, Kettle’s Yard, 1983, p. 56).

Drawing [HGB 108]


Pen and Indian ink on paper

305 x 370 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.