Lot 107
  • 107


80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alexander Archipenko
  • Femme assise
  • inscribed Archipenko and dated Paris 1912
  • terracotta
  • height: 38cm., 15in.
  • Conceived and executed in 1912; this work is one of two known examples executed during the artist's lifetime, one painted plaster and this terracotta.


Herwarth Walden (Der Sturm), Berlin (acquired by 1913)
Dr Eduard Plietzsch, Berlin (acquired circa 1920s)
Private Collection, Europe (by descent from the above. Sold: Christie's, London, 6th December 1983, lot 391)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Hagen, Museum Folkwang, Le Fauconnier-Alexander Archipenko, 1912-13, no. 12
Berlin, Galerie Der Sturm, Alexander Archipenko, 1913, no. 7
Geneva, Salle d'exposition de la Librairie Kundig & Zurich, Kunsthaus, Alexander Archipenko, 1919-20, no. 10


"Alexander Archipenko," in Sturm-Bilderbücher II, Berlin, 1917, illustrated p. 6
Roland Schacht, Alexander Archipenko, Sturm-Bilderbücher II, Berlin, 1924, p. 10, illustrated pl. 10 
Alexander Archipenko, Archipenko: Fifty Creative Years, New York, 1960, illustrated pl. 227
Alexander Archipenko, A Memorial Exhibition (exhibition catalogue), University of California at Los Angeles Art Galleries, Los Angeles, 1967-69, illustration of the bronze p. 39
Donald H. Karshan, "Les Révolutions d'Alexandre Archipenko," in Plaisir de France, 1974, pp. 12-17, illustrated p. 13
Katherine Janszky Michaelsen, Archipenko: A Study of the Early Works, 1908-1921, New York, 1977, pp. 62-64, illustrated pl. 32
"Artist Spotlight—Alexander Archipenko," in The Artist's Foundry for Practicing Sculptors, Modern Art Foundry, vol. 4, no. 1, New York, 1981, illustration of the bronze version pl. 1

Catalogue Note

Cast in Paris in 1912, at the height of Alexander Archipenko’s most innovative period, Femme assise is exemplary of the artist’s radical approach to creativity. Testament to the importance of the work within the artist’s corpus, the sculpture was included in the artist’s first one-man exhibition at the Museum Folkwang in Germany. In the introduction to this exhibition, Guillaume Apollinaire asserted that ‘Archipenko builds realities. His art approaches absolute sculpture more and more closely’ (Guillaume Apollinaire, Introduction to Archipenko's First One-Man Exhibition, Folkwang Museum, Hagen, 1912).  Having left Moscow in 1908, Archipenko took residence in Paris within the infamous artist’s colony La Ruche (the beehive), home to many émigrés including Amedeo Modigliani, Fernand Léger, Sonia Delaunay and Marc Chagall. Inspired by the skilful manipulation of terracotta in ancient Egyptian sculpture in the Louvre, Archipenko departed from the neo-classical sculpture of his time. Together with Pablo Picasso and Joseph Csaky, he was amongst the earliest artists to publicly exhibit the Cubist style in three dimensions.

Femme assise marks the beginning of an exceptional stage in Archipenko’s career. Shortly after his aforementioned one-man exhibition in 1912, Archipenko submitted four of his Cubist sculptures, including another seminal terracotta work La Vie familiale (fig. 1), to the 1912 Salon d’Automne and the controversial 1913 Armory Show in New York. La Vie familiale was later destroyed during the First World War, leaving behind few representations of Archipenko’s pioneering sculpture and highlighting the rarity of the present work. Commenting on the importance of the period, the artist recalled: 'In the year 1912 ... I conceived the way to enrich form by introducing significant modulation of the concave... As the result of many experiments, I obtained an entirely new and original type of sculpture with new aesthetic, optical and spiritual expressions. The combining of positive and negative forms evolved into a new modern style’ (Alexander Archipenko, Fifty Creative Years, 1908-1958, New York, 1960, pp. 52).

The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Frances Archipenko Gray.