1876 - 1957
framed, a Lunn Gallery, Washington, D. C., label on the reverse
gelatin silver print
7 by 9 ⅜ inches
(17.8 by 23.8 cm)
Executed circa 1912.
This early, pleasantly warm-toned print on medium-weight paper with a slight surface sheen, is in very good to excellent condition. As is typical of Brâncuși's contact prints, there are partial margins visible at the extreme edges. There is a one-1/2-inch diagonal loss to the upper right corner of the print and a small, adjacent hard crease that does not appear to break the emulsion. The following is visible only under very close examination in raking light: a faint, linear impression parallel to the upper edge due to pressure from an overmat; a soft crease in the background above the sculpture and another extending from the upper center edge; and the faintest silvering in the darkest areas of the print. There are 2 very faint linear deposits at the center and upper right, possibly ink.
The reverse of the print is soiled and age-darkened, most notably along the edge. 'The Muse Asleep' is written in an unidentified hand in pencil.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Acquired by the present owner from the above
'Brancusi,' This Quarter, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 1925, illustrated
Carola Giedion-Welcker, Modern Plastic Art: Elements of Reality, Volume and Disintegration, Zürich, 1937, p. 98, illustrated
Contemporary Sculpture: An Evolution in Volume and Space, New York, 1955, p. 113, illustrated
Christian Zervos, Brancusi: Sculptures, Peintures, Fresques, Dessins, Paris, 1957, p. 27, illustrated
Carola Giedion-Welcker, Constantin Brancusi, New York, 1959, pl. 11, illustrated
Friedrich Teja Bach, Brancusi: Photo Reflection, Paris, 1991, p. 71, pl. 31, illustrated
Brancusi als Fotograf, Bern, 1996, p. 30, pl. 10, illustrated
With the assistance of Man Ray, Constantin Brancusi obtained darkroom equipment and began prolifically documenting his sculpture through photography as early as 1905. The present photograph of Brancusi’s intimate masterpiece Sleeping Muse I (1909-1910, now in the collection of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden) was taken at eye level and emphasizes the smooth elegance of the marble sculpture contrasted with concrete, the most quotidian of materials.
Brancusi was given a one-man exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery in 1914, one year after being included in both the Salon des Indépendants and the Armory Show in New York. Previously known as the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession, 291 was established to promote the status of fine art photography alongside painting and sculpture. From 1909 until its closure in 1917, however, it hosted only six photography shows out of a total of 61 exhibitions. Unlike the Little Galleries before it, 291 became a venue for exhibitions of non-photographic avant-garde art created by artists such as Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin (see Lot 43), Francis Picabia, and Pablo Picasso. To better reflect the programming in the gallery, Stieglitz abandoned his previous policy of only reproducing photographic artworks in his quarterly journal 'Camera Work'; and after 1910 he also incorporated images of painting, sculpture, and printmaking. The October 1916 issue of 'Camera Work' (No. 48) featured one of Stieglitz’s own photographs of Brancusi’s exhibition at 291. In that installation view, Sleeping Muse I can be seen on a pedestal in the foreground.