Lot 152
  • 152

Lynn Chadwick

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
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  • Lynn Chadwick
  • Encounter VIII
  • incised with the artist's signature, numbered 1/4 and inscribed Susse Fondeurs, Paris
  • bronze with golden oxide
  • 186 by 70 by 42cm.; 73 1/4 by 27 1/2 by 16 1/2 in.
  • Conceived in 1957 and cast in 1961, this work is number 1 from an edition of 4.


Galerie Knoedler, New York
Private Collection
Christie's London, Contemporary Art, 1 December 1988, Lot 738
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Antwerp, Middelheim Park, 4e Biennale voor Beeldhowkunst, 1957 (edition number unknown)


Josef Paul Hodin, Chadwick, London 1961, n.p., no. 11, illustrated (edition number unknown)
John Swope, Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, Los Angeles 1978, p. 21, another example from the edition illustrated
Dennis Farr & Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-1988, Oxford 1990, p. 119, no. 229, illustrated (edition number unknown)
Dennis Farr & Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor: With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-1996, Stroud 1997, p. 123, no. 229, illustrated (edition number unknown)
Dennis Farr & Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2005, Aldershot 2006, p. 131, no. 229, illustrated (edition number unknown)
Dennis Farr & Eva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick: Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2003, Farnham 2014, p. 151, no. 229, illustrated (edition number unknown)


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals a few very faint spots of oxidisation and thin, shallow surface scratches isolated in places. There is a thin and unobtrusive crack around one of the legs.
"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

Encounter VIII is a bold statement in post-war sculpture by one of the period’s most renowned artists, Lynn Chadwick. With its sharp, angular forms accentuated by the tension of gleaming gold surface and dynamic structure, the present work is representative of the more weighted figure sculptures that Chadwick produced following his breakthrough series of mobiles in the early 1950s. Exploring the spatial relationship between forms, Encounter VIII conveys the artist’s abstract aesthetic with tremendous energy and originality. Exceptional for its lustrous gold patina, the present work marks a moment in which the artist increasingly gained recognition from institutional and public collections; a sculpture from the same edition as the present work – though without gold patina – is held in the collection of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Chadwick first came to public attention as part of the New Aspects of British Sculpture exhibition at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1952. The work of eight sculptors, all under the age of 40 – a group that included Kenneth Armitage, Reg Butler and Eduardo Paolozzi – was presented as successors to artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. In the place of the previous generation’s organic forms, the younger artists’ work was a revolution in style, material, and form: characterised by jagged, twisted, and tortured figures, and executed in pitted bronze, welded metal and industrial compounds, their sculptures emphasised the dematerialisation of mass and the vitality of line. The work was seen to reflect the pervasive fear and anxiety of the Cold War moment, and, for eminent critics like Herbert Read, marked a new moment in the history of sculpture.

Chadwick was soon to distinguish himself from this group, however, investing his abstract forms with an allusive vitality; as in the present work, triangular shapes supported on legs begin to acquire movement, and to suggest animals or human figures.  Heads are reduced to beak-like forms in a reflection of Chadwick’s ability to generate forms related to nature from stringently geometric shapes. In the face of the politically-charged post-war existential crisis, Chadwick’s sculptures maintain a sense of humour and wit, as in the descriptive title of Encounter VIII, suggesting an encounter of two forms in space. The pre-war sculptures of Picasso and Giacometti are obvious precedents for Chadwick’s animalistic subject matter and etiolated, mechanised forms – particularly the insectile themes of Giacometti’s Femme Égorgée (Woman With Her Throat Cut) from 1932. However, with his heuristic and experimental approach to sculpture, Chadwick transmutes such spiky and violent biomorphism, creating winged pieces of gossamer-like fragility.

In 1956, the year preceding Encounter VIII, Chadwick was awarded the International Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale; at the age of forty-one, he was the youngest recipient of a major prize since the Second World War. As the critic and art historian Alan Bowness wrote at the time, “Chadwick has been one of the revelations of the Biennale. Quite apart from the distinguished and highly original quality of his imagination, it is the beauty and sensitivity of execution that impresses. He may make use of the “creative accident” but the very sureness of his control makes most modern sculpture look simply incompetent by the side of his work. This Biennale marks the emergence of Lynn Chadwick as a figure of international artistic importance” (Alan Bowness, 'The Venice Biennale (1956)', in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Britain, Lynn Chadwick, 2003-04, p. 44).

Neither fully abstract nor wholly figurative, Encounter VIII aptly reveals Chadwick’s wide array of influences, ranging from human and animal anatomy to Modernist architecture. In the present work, the bulky forms raised on slender legs are obvious allusions to the pilotis, ground-level supporting columns often used by Le Corbusier. Chadwick’s process using welded metal rods to form a three-dimensional armature and build up the skeleton of his sculptures further emphasises his technical approach that alludes to the concept of construction rather than traditional sculpting. At the same time, the rich textural surface compounded by the luminous gold patina imbues the work with staggering grace and noblesse. Merging all of these aspects into a unique and astonishing sculptural idiom, Encounter VIII is a manifestation of Chadwick’s mastery of material, culminating in a sensuous harmony of form and space.