Henri Gaudier-Brzeska Duck Replica
Actual size replica
Dimensions: 120mm x 65mm x 40mm
This crystacal replica has been made exclusively for Kettle's Yard by a local maker, using moulds taken from the original sculpture.
“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.
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.