Lot 9
  • 9

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, R.A.

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
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  • Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, R.A.
  • Frog Eating a Lizard
  • stamped with the Artist's foundry mark and dated 57
  • bronze
  • height: 35.5cm.; 14in.
  • Conceived in 1957, the present work is unique.


Hanover Gallery, London, where acquired by Eugene and Penelope Rosenberg, January 1959


London, Hanover Gallery, Paolozzi Sculpture, 11th November - 31st December 1958, cat. no.16, illustrated;
London, ICA Gallery, Architects’ Choice Exhibition, October – November 1959, cat. no.39;
Venice, Venice Biennale XXX 1960, 1960, cat. no.42, with tour to Umetnicki Pavilion, Belgrade, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Stadtische Kunstgalerie, Bochum, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, City Art Gallery, Gottenburg, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo and Louisiana Gallery, Copenhagen;
London, Globe Playhouse, Summer Sculpture Exhibition, 11th June - 1st September 1973, un-numbered exhibition;
London, Pangolin, Exorcising the Fear; British Sculpture from the 1950s, 11th January - 3rd March 2012, un-numbered exhibition, illustrated.


Architectural Review, November 1952;
Il Popolo, Rome, 18th June 1960, illustrated;
L’Oeil, no.65, May 1960, illustrated p.59;
Les Beaux-Arts, September 1961, no.944, illustrated p.2;
Louisiana Revy, January 1962, no.3, illustrated on cover;
David Thompson, 'A Decade of British Sculpture', Modern Art in Britain, Cambridge Opinion 37, London, illustrated p.32;
Geoffrey Summerfield (ed.), Junior Voices – an Anthology of Poetry and Pictures, Book 1, Penguin Education, Harmondsworth, 1970, illustrated p.75.

We are grateful to Robin Spencer for his kind assistance with the cataloguing of the present work.


Structurally sound. There is very minor surface dust and casting residue apparent to the crevices, with very slight rubbing to raised elements on the top of the sculpture. Elsewhere there is a tiny spot of early verdigris just above the mouth, only visible upon close inspection. This excepting the work appears in very good overall condition. Please contact the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Eugene and Penelope Rosenberg bought Frog Eating a Lizard from Paolozzi’s 1958 solo exhibition at the Hanover Gallery in London, a show which, as the years pass, seems of increasing significance, not only for British sculpture in the 20th Century, but for the development of Post-War sculpture as a whole. Of the works in the  exhibition, a number are now in major museums: Chinese Dog 2 at Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice; Japanese War God at Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Cyclops at Tate; The Philosopher in the British Council Collection; St Sebastian I and Icarus 2 at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, to name a few.

As a group, these sculptures represented a vision unlike anything else, except, perhaps, Paolozzi’s gallery stable-mate Francis Bacon at his excoriating best. These half-mechanised figures and hybrid mutilated beasts, from a godless mythology, seem both dug-up from some ancient burial site and yet simultaneously wrenched back from a near-future, although one not imagined in 1958. At this moment in time, future Utopias were bright and shiny, not the dystopian worlds of later decades – when Paolozzi’s vision would find shape in films such as Mad Max, Blade Runner and The Terminator.

As a young man, growing up in the family shop in Edinburgh, Paolozzi had been obsessed with the bright promise of the new age of mass merchandise and material culture. His time as an art student in a bomb-ravaged London and his early life as a professional artist in a still-traumatised Paris had shown the fragility of this brave new world, and how easily it could fall apart into something much more primal. These breakthrough works of the early 50s were formed literally from junk, the detritus of the industrial age, which were used to create negative impressions in flat sheets of clay. Paolozzi then took a wax positive and these delicate sheets would be twisted and torn and fastened together to make an image to be cast in bronze, the finishing touches created with a welding torch.

Paolozzi’s figures are the sculptural equivalent to T. S. Eliot’s 'hollow men' –the method of construction emphasizing the emptiness of their cores. It is a vision fuelled by the Cold War, which instilled in Europe, still reeling from the privations of the War, an abiding sense of the fragility of things.  Of the seven young sculptors who featured in the seminal New Aspects of British Sculpture show at the Venice Biennale in 1952, Paolozzi is perhaps is best described by the notion of a 'geometry of fear,' the  phrase coined by the exhibition’s curator Herbert Read, which in time has come to stand for this ‘group’ as a whole. This geometry, of course, has no real, external straight lines, it is an internal tension, between physical and emotional pressure points. On the outside, Read’s concept is squat, bow legged, ready - like Paolozzi's frog.