Nothing is known about Gaston Lachaise's Breasts prior to January 1933, when he mentioned the sculpture in a letter to his wife, Isabel Dutaud Nagle (1872-1957) (letter of February 28, 1933, Lachaise Papers, The Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library). A month later, Edward M. M. Warburg saw the work in the artist's New York studio, at 55 West Eighth Street, and, according to Lachaise, was "terribly interested" in it (letter of February 28, 1933, to his wife, ibid.). On May 26th, Lachaise posed with the sculpture for Carl Van Vechten (see photo below right) and in June, the artist mounted it on its base for its new owner, at which time he reported to his wife: "I must say, it is something beautiful" (letters of June 14 and 15, 1933, ibid.)
Breasts, a high relief, is one of three marble sculptures of various parts of the female body that Warburg acquired from Lachaise within a two-year period. The other works are Knees (Museum of Modern Art, New York), which was purchased by Warburg in May 1932 and completed by Lachaise in January 1933; and Torso (Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts), which was completed in May 1933. Lachaise, who had become proficient in carving stone early in his career, delighted in working with hard materials, and executed these three sculptures by himself.
The Lachaise Foundation has given Breasts the number 101.
We are grateful to Virginia Budny for her assistance in preparing the catalogue entry for this work.
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