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Henri Gaudier-Brzeska Duck Replica


Crystacal Plaster Replica of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska's Duck

Handmade and finished in Norfolk, exclusively for Kettle's Yard 

Actual size replica, measuring approximately 120 x 65 x 40 mm

Jim Ede acquired the original green marble Duck in 1927. In the mid-1960s he commissioned twelve bronze casts from the Fiorini & Carney Foundry in London. Only one of them remains at Kettle’s Yard, and it was this cast that was used to make new moulds for the production of these replicas.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) was one of the leading figures of European avant-garde sculpture. Gaudier 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.

Duck (1914) is an example of the small-scale informal carvings that Gaudier made when he was short of materials. Financial circumstances would often leave him without stone to carve. Then he would rely on off-cuts from Aristide Fabrucci (the Italian sculptor who had a studio next to his on the Fulham Road), or on gifts, or on theft from local mason’s yards. The small scale and simple rendition of the Duck’s body suggest that it may have been fashioned from such an off-cut.

Gaudier’s practice of making hand-held sculptures for his friends may have resulted from these restrictions. Duck displays Gaudier’s affection for animals, but like similar pieces by the sculptor its shape and angularity suggest that it might have been conceived almost as a “pocket weapon”. The body of the bird is geometrically simplified, with a triangle emphasising the shape of the tail and an incised circle describing the eye.