Lot 5
  • 5

ALBERTO GIACOMETTI | Rue de l'Échaudé (Quatre figurines sur piédestal)

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Alberto Giacometti
  • Rue de l'Échaudé (Quatre figurines sur piédestal)
  • Signed Alberto Giacometti and dated 1952 (lower right)
  • Pen and ink on paper
  • 12 3/4 by 10 in.
  • 32.4 by 25.5 cm
  • Executed in 1952.


M & Mme Adrien Maeght, Paris (until at least 1996)

Pace Wildenstein, New York

Acquired from the above on April 9, 1999


London, The Arts Council Gallery, Alberto Giacometti, 1955, no. 78, illustrated on the back cover of the catalogue

Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie des Tuileries, Alberto Giacometti, 1969-70, no. 241, illustrated in the catalogue

Madrid, Fundacion Juan March, Giacometti, 1976, no. 34

Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Fondation Maeght, Alberto Giacometti, 1978, no. 238, illustrated in the catalogue 

Paris, Galerie Adrien Maeght, Alberto Giacometti, Plâtres peints, 1984, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Alberto Giacometti, 1986, no. 117, illustrated in the catalogue

Washington, D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden & San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Giacometti 1901-1966, 1988-89, no. 68, illustrated in the catalogue 

Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Alberto Giacometti, 1990-91, no. 123, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, Alberto Giacometti, sculptures, peintures, dessins, 1991-92, no. 137, illustrated in the catalogue

Vienna, Kunsthalle & Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Alberto Giacometti 1901-1966, 1996, no. 147, illustrated in the catalogue


Jacques Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1962, illustrated p. 69 (dated 1950)

Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, illustrated p. 136

Yves Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti, A Biography of His Work, Paris, 1991, illustrated p. 341

Catalogue Note

Despite his mastery of multiple media, Alberto Giacometti stated that “One has to focus uniquely and exclusively on drawing. If one could master drawing, everything else would be possible" (quoted in J. Lord, Dessins de Giacometti, Paris, 1971, p. 26). Giacometti drew all his life, at times using the medium as a preparation for his sculptures and at others as a concentrated study of the objects around him. Works such as Rue de l'Échaudé (Quatre figurines sur piédestal) exemplify the intensely introspective and exploratory genius of his skill. For Giacometti, technical finesse was the instrument used to capture reality on the page or canvas. Writing about the fruitful period of work for the artist in post-World War II Paris, James Lord stresses the primacy of graphic works from this point onward: “Though surprised by the advent of the tall, thin figures, he accepted their existence as a counterpart of his own…. Drawing was essential to it. Drawing is the most immediate, most revealing, and most universal of all creative acts. It had been the first by which Alberto had attempted to assert himself, and from now til the end of his life it would be the basis of his activity” (J. Lord, Giacometti A Biography, New York, 1985, pp. 265-66). Rue de l'Échaudé (Quatre figurines sur piédestal), executed in 1952, is a masterful drawing of one of the preeminent subjects of Giacometti’s art: the standing female figure. Delineated in swirls of ink, the female nude figures in the present work exert a powerful presence. Alongside the walking man, the standing female figure represented the absolute distillation of Giacometti’s existentialist perspective, whether depicted alone as in Femme nue debout in 1946 or as a group of four, the focus of the four figures still apparent in 1960 in Quatre figures et un tête (see figs. 2 & 3). Discussing the importance of these forms Christian Klemm writes: “With these weightless elongated figures, Giacometti extended an age-old tradition of imaging man and woman as symbolic representations of the elemental. The work limited to the core of human existence is symptomatic of a post-war era that was seeking out grounds for a new start, however minimal these might be. The lofty verticality of Giacometti’s figures, combined with their exquisite fragility, creates a tension with the base materiality of their composition that works to reflect the human condition caught between dignity, vulnerability and the ultimate fallibility” (C. Klemm, Alberto Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthaus, Zurich, 2001, p. 150).

While a traditional approach might involve carefully drawn studies followed by experiments in plasters, and bronze casting only undertaken after all decisions are finalized, Giacometti turns such suppositions on their head. Here instead is a drawing created two years after the sculpted works, a continued meditation by the artist on his endless engagement with this subject specifically and his work as a whole. Two years after Giacometti created the first bronze version of Quatre figurines sur piédestal, the plaster Quatre figurines and another related bronze featuring figures twice as large as their base, the artist put pen to paper to capture this figural grouping once more. A combination of swirling loops, lines and imperfect shapes, these four women are created seemingly from nothingness. Valerie Fletcher writes about Giacometti’s practice of drawing sculpted works, specifically focusing on the present work: “In addition to depicting groups of sculptures in the studio, Giacometti occasionally focused on a single work. This method, which he had adopted by 1932, reverses the traditional practice of making drawings as preliminary studies for sculpture. Here he returned to the 1950 Four Figures on a Pedestal, originally inspired by women in a brothel on the rue de l’Échaudé. Having created figures from minimal material in sculpture, in this subsequent drawing he defined the figures with a remarkably economy. Each consists of a few rapid pen strokes, ranging from moderate fullness in the figure on the left to nearly insubstantial forms to the nude second from the right” (Alberto Giacometti 1901-1966 (exhibition catalogue), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden & San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1988-89, p. 178). 

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Giacometti and it is recorded in the Alberto Giacometti database as AGD 4168.