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.
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