Brancusi’s La Muse Endormie Debuts At Auction

BY Katrina Kufer / Apr 24 2017 / 20:10 PM

Simple yet captivating, La Muse Endormie (1913) by Brancusi will appear at auction for the first time at Christie’s New York in May

Brancusi’s La Muse Endormie Debuts At Auction
Image courtesy Christie's
Constantin Brancusi. La Muse Endormie. 1913. Patinated bronze with gold leaf. Length 26.7 cm. Original marble version carved in 1909-10.

The patinated bronze and gold leaf sculpture of a sleeping woman’s head by Constantin Brancusi will be up for auction at Christie’s New York at its 15 May evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art. At an estimated $20-30 million, La Muse Endormie comes from French collector Jacques Ulmann, who has owned the work since the 1950s. Christie’s will also be offering additional works from Ulmann’s substantial collection by artists such as Picasso or Jean Dubuffet, whom he personally financially supported and catapulted onto the international art market. The selection, says Anika Guntrum, international director of Impressionist & Modern Art, is “testament to Jacques Ulmann’s extraordinary eye and passionate quest for art that challenges and delights.”
According to Christie’s, La Muse Endormie’s “drastic purification of form and emotional resonance mark the dawn of a new sculptural language.” While first created in marble in 1909-10, Brancusi later cast six versions in bronze as individual works rather than repeated editions. Four are housed by museums such as MoMA and the Centre Pompidou, while the remaining two are in private collections. “Bringing Brancusi’s masterpiece of 20th century sculpture to market for today’s collectors is an honour,” said Jessica Fertig, Senior Vice President, Head of evening sale, Impressionist & Modern Art. “La Muse Endormie has a magical amplitude – displaying formal genius and wondrously modulated patina.” Speaking specifically to the individual patination of each sculpture, this version of the sculpture has a particularly rich, warm hue which Brancusi enhanced through selective gilding, which the artist felt heightened the innate expressive power.

Marking Brancusi’s advance towards the abstraction that defined his mature work, the ovoid sculpture is also illustrative of Brancusi’s fascination with sleep between 1906-8, when he sculpted several heads of sleeping women and children in a naturalistic style learned from Rodin.

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