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  • Provenance

    Ferruccio Bianchi, Venice, 1949
    Private Collection, Venice, 1981
    Sandro Bosi, Rome, 2001
    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    ‘Isabel and Other Intimate Strangers: Portraits by Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon’, Gagosian Gallery, New York, November 4 – December 13, 2008
    ‘The Figure and Dr. Freud’, Haunch of Venison, New York, July 8 – August 22, 2009

  • Literature

    Liljevalch Konsthall, Stockholm, & Fondation Alberto & Annette Giacometti, Paris, Alberto Giacometti, exh. cat., 2006, p. 28, Ill. for a preliminary sketch
    Isabel and Other Intimate Strangers: Portraits by Alberto Giacometti and Francis Bacon, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2008, illustrated pp. 17, 252

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, Alberto Giacometti’s unique Torse de femme, was cast in the presence of the artist in 1948-1949 at the Venice foundry of Ferruccio Bianchi. A torso with dark brown patina, the sculpture was a gift from Giacometti to Bianchi in payment for the latter’s cast of Peggy Guggenheim’s Walking Woman II, on which the present lot is based. On Giacometti’s instructions, Bianchi cast Torse de femme, cropped at the thighs, from the 1936 Walking Woman II plaster, then-owned by Guggenheim and now in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Venice. Bianchi later mounted the sculpture to the present marble base. It remained in his private collection for over thirty years, as stated by Véronique Wiesinger, Director and Senior Curator of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris.1 In 2004, when the patina was restored under the supervision of the Comité Giacometti, the bronze was inscribed ‘EPREUVE UNIQUE’. Torse de femme appears as number 8, a unique cast by Ferruccio Bianchi, in the catalogue raisonné prepared by the Fondation.

    As Wiesinger has stated: ‘This female torso is closely related to three of the most important aspects of the art and working process of Alberto Giacometti: his willingness to address classical stereotypes of sculpture; his propensity to revisit and reprocess his past works; the pivotal role played between 1935 and 1949 by his muse, the English artist Isabel Delmer (Nicholas), in the definition of his mature art.’2

    Giacometti first met Isabel Nicholas after she moved from England to Paris in 1934. ‘Tall, lithe, superbly proportioned, she moved with the agility of a feline predator,’ wrote James Lord.3 Giacometti too moved with agility; he approached her one evening across the Café du Dôme, haunt of artists, where he had observed her for many days. ‘Est-ce qu’on peut parler?’ he asked.4 The answer, of course, was yes. Muse to Giacometti for the next decade (and later to Francis Bacon), the young Nicholas first posed for Giacometti in his atelier, circa 1935. Those sittings resulted in Tête d’Isabel (1936), a plaster head which bore striking similarities to the rounded profiles of archaic Egyptian statuary, specifically to a fragmentary bust of Queen Tiye in the collection of the Neues Museum, Berlin. During that same summer, according to Wiesinger, Giacometti began modifying an earlier work, Walking Woman I, ‘deeply under the influence of his lover, Isabel…’5 This new standing figure, Walking Woman II, ‘is a pivotal work in Giacometti’s production,’ writes Wiesinger. ‘It defines the sculptural prototype, developed by the artist from 1945 on in various degrees of vacillating verticality, of an average-size woman…and it evinces a sensuality that was absent in the works of the Surrealist period.’6 In November 1949, Giacometti stayed with Guggenheim in Venice at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in order to supervise Bianchi’s casting of Torse de femme and of Walking Woman II, on which the former was based. Later that month, on November 25th, Guggenheim wrote to Giacometti: ‘Dear Friend, thank you so much…The bronze is not finished yet. I will have it photographed for you and I will show it to you in Paris.’7

    1 Véronique Wiesinger, ‘Impressionist Modern’, Christie’s, New York, May 4, 2010, p. 117
    2 Wiesinger, p. 116
    3 James Lord, Giacometti: A Biography, New York, 1985, p. 161
    4 Valentina Castellani, et al., Isabel and Other Intimate Strangers, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2008, n.p.
    5 Véronique Wiesinger, ‘Impressionist Modern’, Christie’s, New York, May 4, 2010, p. 116
    6 Véronique Wiesinger, et al., Isabel and Other Intimate Strangers, exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2008, p. 218
    7 Véronique Wiesinger, ‘Impressionist Modern’, Christie’s, New York, May 4, 2010, p. 116

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE NEW YORK COLLECTION

44

Unique Torse de femme

conceived 1932, cast 1948-1949
Dark brown patinated bronze, marble base.
28 x 8 1/16 x 6 in (71.1 x 20.5 x 15.2 cm) including base
Base incised ‘A. Giacometti’ and embossed ‘Ferruccio Bianchi’. Reverse incised ‘EPREUVE UNIQUE’. Together with a certificate of authenticity from Comité Giacometti.

Estimate
$2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for $2,994,500

Moss

16 October 2012
New York