Lot 29
  • 29

JACQUES LIPCHITZ | Arlequin à l'accordéon

600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Jacques Lipchitz
  • Arlequin à l'accordéon
  • Inscribed J. Lipchitz, numbered 3/7, stamped with the foundry mark Modern Art Fdry. and marked with the artist's thumbprint
  • Bronze
  • Height: 25 3/4 in.
  • 65.4 cm
  • Conceived in 1919 and cast in bronze by the Modern Art Foundry, New York, in a numbered edition of 7 during the artist’s lifetime; this example cast in 1956.


Fine Arts Associates (Otto Gerson), New York (acquired from the artist)

Mr. & Mrs. Charles Zadok, New York (acquired from the above in 1956 and sold: Sotheby & Co., London, June 22, 1965, lot 6)

A.A. Juviler, New York (acquired at the above sale and sold by the estate: Sotheby’s, New York, May 18, 1983, lot 79)

Private Collection, United States (acquired at the above sale)

Private Collection, United States (acquired from the above in 2001)

Acquired from the above by the present owner


New York, The Whitney Museum of Art, The Museum and Its Friends: Twentieth-Century American Art from Collections of the Friends of the Whitney Museum, 1958, no. 102 (titled The Accordionist)


Maurice Raynal, Lipchitz, Paris, 1920, illustration of the painted terracotta n.p. 

André Salmon, "La Sculpture Vivante" in L'Art Vivant, Paris, May 1926

Jacques Lipchitz, My Life in Sculpture, New York, 1972, fig. 41, illustration of another cast p. 56

Abraham M. Hammacher, Jacques Lipchitz: His Sculpture, New York, 1975, no. XXXI, illustration of the stone version p. 38 (dated 1918) 

Nicole Barbier, L'Oeuvre de Jacques Lipchitz, Paris, 1978, no. 15, illustration of the painted terracotta pp. 44-45

Alan G. Wilkinson, The Sculpture of Jacques Lipchitz: A Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, London, 1996, no. 92, illustration of another cast p. 52

Lipchitz: Les années françaises, 1910-1940 (exhibition catalogue), Musée des années 30, Boulogne-Billancourt, illustration of the painted terracotta p. 97

Catalogue Note

Conceived ten years after Lipchitz’s arrival in Paris, Arlequin à l’accordéon exemplifies his exploration of Cubism in a three-dimensional medium. During his early years in Paris, the artist met many of the leading figures of the Parisian avant-garde, who introduced him to new artistic tendencies. Lipchitz was particularly influence by the art of Picasso, Braque and Gris, which is reflected in both the style and subject-matter of the present work. Themes and characters from commedia dell’arte had become popular in the early twentieth century, particularly in the work of Picasso and Gris, as Lipchitz himself described: "We may have been attracted to them originally because of their gay traditional costumes, involving many different colored areas" (J. Lipchitz, op. cit., p. 58).Alan G. Wilkinson wrote about the present work: "In 1919 Lipchitz abandoned relief sculpture and returned to fully three-dimensional work. The charming series of harlequins and Pierrots playing the clarinet or the accordion reflected his interest in eighteenth-century painting, and particularly the work of Watteau: 'The Pierrots and harlequins were part of our general vocabulary, characters taken from the commedia dell’arte, particularly popular in the eighteenth century… Generally, this [1919-20] was a transitional period in which I was playing variations on a number of familiar themes, more or less conscious that I needed to find a new direction, a new stimulus'" (A. G. Wilkinson in Jacques Lipchitz: A Life in Sculpture (exhibition catalogue), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (and traveling), 1989-91, p. 88).

Lipchitz became a French citizen in the mid 1920s, but the onset of World War II forced him to flee to the United States where he settled in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. After the war he was able to retrieve his original plasters from his studio in Paris and worked in concert with the Modern Art Foundry towards completing bronze editions for his early Cubist works. Many of these sculptures had one or two casts made in France before the war; with only a few exceptions none had their complete edition of seven cast prior to Lipchitz's move to New York. Lipchitz had taken a strong view on edition sizes relatively early in his career—all works were to be cast in editions of no more than seven. According to the records of the Modern Art Foundry, five casts of Arlequin à l’accordéon were cast between 1956 and 1958. The present work is numbered 3/7, while another cast bearing the number 3/7 is also extant. Cases of multiple authorized casts bearing the same number by Lipchitz, among other sculptors, do occur occasionally at foundries both in the United States and Europe. The present casts's provenance is documented back to Otto Gersen, Lipchitz's primary art dealer following Curt Valentin's death in 1954.

The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Pierre Levai.