Eric Gill A.R.A. (British, 1882-1940) Leda and The Swan 23.5 cm. (9 1/4 in.) high (Carved in 1925)

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Lot 24*
Eric Gill A.R.A.
(British, 1882-1940)
Leda and The Swan 23.5 cm. (9 1/4 in.) high

Sold for £ 35,000 (US$ 46,701) inc. premium
Eric Gill A.R.A. (British, 1882-1940)
Leda and The Swan
boxwood woodblock on a carved ebony base
23.5 cm. (9 1/4 in.) high
Carved in 1925

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The Artist's family
    With Anthony d'Offay, London, 1982
    Private Collection
    Sale; Sotheby's, London, 10 May 1989, lot 100, where acquired by the present owner
    Private Collection, U.S.A.

    Literature
    John Physick, Catalogue of the Engraved Work of Eric Gill, London, 1963, p.388
    Judith Collins, Eric Gill, The Sculpture, A Catalogue Raisonne, Herbert Press, London, 2006, p.148, cat.no.162 (ill.b&w)

    Gill's workbooks reveal that he carved this small oval boxwood block on 5 August 1925 for his own pleasure. It depicts a naked woman rather awkwardly positioned in a shallow river, bending over and revealing her buttocks. The print from this boxwood block is P388 in John Physick's catalogue of Gill's engraved work, where it is dated 1926 and titled Woman Bending. Physick also records that Gill inscribed the title Lady Bending on the mount of the proof copy in the V&A Museum, and added 'Book illustration – ed of 25'.

    At some later point, Gill mounted the small woodblock on top of a carved ebony stand to produce a sculpture in the shape of a large erect phallus. He called this sculpture Leda and the Swan on the job sheet in his workbooks, but there is no swan in the river scene cut on the boxwood block. It may be that the swan is represented by the formal shape of the sculpture. In 1924 Gill had engraved a small scene of Leda and the Swan on copper, but in this earlier example a naked Leda is seated on grass embracing the swan between her legs and kissing it.

    We are grateful to Dr Judith Collins for compiling this catalogue entry.
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