Lot 346
  • 346


180,000 - 250,000 GBP
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  • Constantin Brancusi
  • Buste d'enfant
  • signed C. Brancusi, dated 1906 and inscribed PARIS
  • painted plaster
  • height: 35.8cm., 14in.
  • Executed in 1906.


(Possibly) Stefan Popescu, Romania
Nicolas Popescu, Romania (possibly by descent from above)
Harold & Hester Diamond, New York (acquired from the above)
Galerie de France, Paris & David Grob Ltd., London (acquired from the above circa 1980)
Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above in Spring 1985; sale: Christian de Quay, Paris, 3rd June 1993, lot 19)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


(probably) Paris, Société du Salon d’Automne, 1906, no. 219
Paris, Galerie de France & Lugano, Galleria Pieter Coray, Délicatesse de Brancusi/La Tenerezza in Brancusi, 1985, illustrated in the catalogue p. 11
Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957 (exhibition catalogue), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris & Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1995, no. 3, illustrated in the catalogue


Christian Zervos, Constantin Brancusi, sculptures, peintures, fresques, dessins, Paris, 1057, illustration of a bronze cast p. 15
Petre Oprea, 'Constantin Brancusi. Données biographiques' in Cahiers d'Art, 1960, illustration of a bronze cast p. 190
Ionel Jianou, Brancusi, Paris, 1963, no. 105, illustration of a bronze cast n.p.
Acad. G. Oprescu, Sculptura Romaneasca, Bucarest, 1965, illustration of a bronze cast p. 109
Sidney Geist, Brancusi, A Study of the Sculpture, New York, 1968, n.n., illustration of a bronze cast p. 20
Constantin Brancusi 1876 - 1957, A Retrospective Exhibition (exhibition catalogue),  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1969, n.n., illustration of a bronze cast p. 32
Sidney Geist, Brancusi, The sculpture and drawings, New York, illustration of a bronze cast p. 41
Pontus Hulten, Natalia Dumitresco & Alexandre Istrati (eds.), Brancusi, Paris, 1986, no. 34, illustration of a bronze cast p. 67
Friedrich Teja Bach, Constantin Brancusi, Metamorphosen plastischer Form, Cologne, 1987, no. 49, illustration of a bronze cast p. 412

Catalogue Note

Having graduated with honours from the Craiova School of Crafts, Romania in 1898, Brancusi immediately enrolled at the Bucharest School of Fine Arts. It was here that the artist developed his understanding of the academic rules of 19th-century sculpture. However, even at this early point in his career, Brancusi demonstrated his unique ability to distil forms to their essence rather than merely copying outward appearance. By 1905, through his extraordinary talent, Brancusi secured an annual stipend from the Romanian government, allowing him to travel to Paris and continue his studies at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

During his early months in Paris, Brancusi engaged in a number of commissioned sculptural projects for a number of patrons. By 1906, however, he had begun his own exploration of the sculptural medium. Using various materials Brancusi began the distillation of form, which would come to define his later œuvre. In reference to the present work Sidney Geist notes that ‘Brancusi goes beyond his usual skill as a modeller. The veiled glance is a new kind of achievement, and a genuine mystery is generated by the inclination and gentle turning of the head. Brancusi, now impatient of symmetry, and as though to jar the mildness of the total image, cuts off the right shoulder; in the context of the naturalism of Buste d'enfant, this is the most daring gesture Brancusi has made up to this time’ (Sidney Geist, Brancusi, A Study of the Sculpture, New York, 1968, p. 20).

The importance of the present work in the development of Brancusi’s mastery of sculpture and pioneering development of Modernism is cemented by its inclusion in the first retrospective of the artist’s work, at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris in 1995. The exhibition catalogue highlights the dichotomy between the simplicity of the plaster modelling and the extraordinary childlike spirit Brancusi is able to achieve within the work. Going on to explain that his patination of the plaster models allowed him to visualise the works in bronze, something which allowed Brancusi to select only his most progressive models for casting. Only two bronzes of this model were ever cast and only one other plaster in addition to the present work exists; this second plaster (now damaged) is held in the permanent collection of the Romanian National Museum of Art, Bucharest.