Lot 20
  • 20

Alberto Giacometti

8,000,000 - 12,000,000 USD
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  • Alberto Giacometti
  • Femme de Venise VIII
  • Signed Alberto Giacometti, inscribed with the foundry mark Susse Fondeur Paris and numbered 4/6; also numbered on the interior IV/VI in red paint 
  • Bronze
  • Height: 48 in.
  • 122 cm


Galerie Maeght, Paris (by 1959)

Hanover Gallery, London (in 1959)

World House Galleries, New York (1959)

Alex Maguy, Paris

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York

Jeffrey Loria, New York

Private Collection, New York

Acquavella Galleries, New York

Acquired from the above by the previous owner in 2004


London, Hanover Gallery, Sculpture, 1959 (incorrectly titled Femme de Venise VI)

New York, World House Galleries, Giacometti, 1960, no. 10 (incorrectly titled Femme de Venise VI)

New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, European Artists from A to V, 1916, no. 17 (incorrectly titled Femme de Venise VI)


Venice, Biennale di Venezia, Giacometti, 1956, listed as Sei Figuri

Giacometti - Sculptures, paintings, drawings from 1956 to 1958 (exhibition catalogue), Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1958, another cast listed

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthaus, Zürich, 1962-63, no. 65, another cast listed p. 27

Raoul-Jean Moulin, Giacometti Sculptures, New York, 1964, no. 16, illustration of another cast

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1965, no. 56, illustration of another cast p. 69

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), The Tate Gallery, London, 1965, no. 64, illustration of another cast pl. 28

Alberto Giacometti: Skulpturen, Malerei, Tegninen (exhibition catalogue), The Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, 1965, no. 60, illustration of another cast

Franz Meyer, Alberto Giacometti: Eine Kunst Existentieller Wirklichkeit, Frauenfeld-Stuttgart, 1968, illustration of another cast p. 196

Reinhold Hohl, Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1971, illustration of another cast p. 119

Die Sammlung der Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthaus, Zürich, 1971, illustration of another cast p. 167

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Seibu, Tokyo; Museum of Modern Art, Kobe, 1973-74, no. 50, illustration of another cast

Alberto Giacometti - A Retrospective Exhibition (exhibition catalogue), The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Cleveland Museum of Art; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Des Moines Art Center; Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal, 1974-75, no. 81, illustration of another cast p. 105

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Wilhelm-Lehmbruck-Museum, Duisburg, 1977, no. 34, illustration of another cast p. 153

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Maeght, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 1978, no. 92, illustration of another cast p. 102

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Nijmeegs Museum, Nimègue, 1980, no. 15, illustration of another cast p. 36

Alberto Giacometti Exposition (exhibition catalogue), Seibu Gallery, Tokyo, 1983, no. 39, illustration of another cast in color

Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, no. 206, illustration of another cast p. 144

Charles Juliet, Giacometti, Paris, 1986, illustration of another cast p. 91

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 1986, no. 157, illustration of another cast in color p. 245

Alberto Giacometti 1901-1966 (exhibition catalogue), Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1986, no. 29, illustration of another cast in color p. 102

Herbert Matter, Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1987, illustrations of another cast pp. 119 and 121

Alberto Giacometti, Skulpturen, Gemälde, Zeichnungen, Graphik (exhibition catalogue), Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, 1987-88, no. 184, illustrations of another cast pp. 272 and 275

Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Galerie Beyeler, Basel, 1990, no. 26, illustrations of another cast pp. 54 and 55

Yves Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti, A Biography of His Work, Paris, 1991, no. 379, illustrated in color p. 402

Alberto Giacometti, Sculptures, Peintures, Dessins (exhibition catalogue), Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1991-92, no. 231, illustration of another cast in color p. 332

Ernst Scheidegger, Traces of a Friendship. Alberto Giacometti, Zürich, 2001, illustration of another cast p. 146 

The Women of Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Pace Wildenstein, New York & The Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas 2005-06, illustration of another cast in color 


Rich green patina. This work is in excellent original condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The present sculpture is number eight in Giacometti's celebrated series of nine standing figures of a female nude, collectively known as the Femmes de Venise.  The series originates from a group of ten plasters which Giacometti had produced between January and May 1956 in preparation for the concurrent exhibitions of his work at the Venice Biennale and at the Kunsthalle in Bern in June of that year.  According to recent scholarship by Véronique Wiesinger, six of the plasters were exhibited in Venice as "works in progress" (see fig. 1) and four were shown in Bern (see fig. 3).  Judging from photographs of these exhibitions, we can see that the plaster of the present sculpture was exhibited in Venice and titled collectively with the others, Six Figures.  Giacometti eventually selected nine of these plasters for casting into bronze in editions of six, plus one artist's proof of each figure.  Regardless of where they were exhibited, each of the nine bronzes is called Femme de Venise.

The Femmes de Venise are direct descendants of the elongated female figures which Giacometti had been working on in the 1940s and precursors of the larger female figure that he would executed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Created at the median of this artistic development, the Femmes de Venise serve as the summation of Giacometti's findings in this particular subject.  The variations among the nine Femmes, when considered as a group, demonstrate the metamorphoses of Giacometti's vision of the female form.  From a technical standpoint, the differences in height and anatomy suggest that their numbering might not reflect the sequence in which Giacometti produced them.  Valerie Fletcher has suggested that the nine Femmes were randomly renumbered when the artist selected them from among the original plasters for casting into bronze.

This group of sculptures was created as different states of the same female figure, modeled from a single mass of clay on a single armature (see fig. 4).  When Giacometti was satisfied with a particular version, his brother Diego made a plaster cast of it while Giacometti continued to rework the clay into a different figure.  As Giacometti told David Sylvester, "The last of the states was no more definitive than its predecessors.  All were provisional... The standing figures and heads are states" (quoted in Twentieth Century Modern Masters, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989, p. 265).

All of the Femmes de Venise display the thin, gaunt proportions for which Giacometti is best known, and about which he commented to Sylvester in 1964:  "At one time I wanted to hold on to the volume, and they became so tiny that they used to disappear.  After that I wanted to hold on to a certain height, and they became narrow.  But this was despite myself and even if I fought against it.  And I did fight against it;  I tried to make them broader.  The more I wanted to make them broader, the narrower they got.  But the real explanation is something I don't' know, still don't know.  I could only know it through the work that I am going to do" (David Sylvester, Looking at Giacometti, London and New York, 1997, p. 6).

With its disproportionately small head and large feet accentuated by a sloping pedestal, the overall effect of this tall, slender figure is what Lord termed an "ascending vitality" (James Lord, op. cit., p. 356).  Reflecting on the impression which the Femmes de Venise make upon the viewer, Lord concludes: "When a spectator's attention is fixed upon the head of one of these figures, the lower part of her body would lack verisimilitude were it not planted firmly upon those enormous feet, because even without looking directly at them, one is aware of their mass... The eye is obliged to move up and down, while one's perception of the sculpture as a whole image becomes an instinctual act, spontaneously responding to the force that drove the sculptor's fingers.  Comparable to the force of gravity, it kept those massive feet so solidly set on the pedestal that they affirmed the physicality of the figure as the one aspect of his creativity which the artist could absolutely count on, all the rest being subject to the unreliability of the mind's eye" (ibid., pp. 356-57).

The present bronze is number 4 of an edition of 6.  According to the Comité Giacometti, this bronze of Femme de Venise VIII was cast  by the Susse foundry in 1957.  According to Mary Lisa Palmer, the present cast was erroneously titled Femme de Venise VI when it was exhibited between 1959 and 1961.