Lynn Chadwick, R.A. - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 3, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Belgium

  • Exhibited

    Bath, Beaux Arts, April 1989 (another example exhibited and illustrated, p. 15)

  • Literature

    Denis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-1988, Oxford, 1990, no. C68, p. 334 (another example illustrated)
    Denis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor, With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-1996, Stroud, 1997, no. C68, pp. 374 (another example illustrated, p. 375)
    Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick. Sculptor: With a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2005, Aldershot, 2006, no. C68, pp. 382 (another example illustrated, p. 383)
    Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick Sculptor: with a Complete Illustrated Catalogue 1947-2003, Aldershot, 2014, no. C68, pp. 376-377 (another example illustrated)

    We are grateful to Dr Sarah Chadwick for her assistance with the cataloguing of this work.

  • Catalogue Essay

    First Girl Sitting On Bench, 1988, is a culmination of Lynn Chadwick’s progressive sculptural practice which has maintained an integral position in British sculpture from the 1950s until today. Instantly recognisable, Chadwick’s figures are a defining three-dimensional symbol of post-war British art; Chadwick sought to encompass a new modern aesthetic in a world rebuilding itself after the turmoil of the Second World War. A key member of Herbert Read’s ‘Geometry of Fear’ generation, Chadwick, who had participated in the age-defining Festival of Britain in 1951, was selected to represent his country in the New Aspects of British Sculpture show at the Venice Biennale in 1952 alongside his artist contemporaries, later winning the International Grand Prix for Sculpture at Venice in 1956 over Alberto Giacometti. Alan Bowness expressed to the Observer in June 1956, in response to Chadwick’s exhibition at Venice that year, 'Chadwick has been one of the revelations of the Biennale. This Biennale award marks the emergence of Lynn Chadwick as a figure of international artistic importance' (Alan Bowness, 'The Venice Biennale', Observer, 24 June 1956, in Dennis Farr, Lynn Chadwick, London, 2003, p. 44). Thirty-two years after his landmark Venice show, Chadwick was commissioned by the British Council to create a large sculpture for the garden of the British Pavilion in recognition of his incomparable contribution to British art. The artist’s Back to Venice sculpture, executed and exhibited in the same year as First Girl Sitting On Bench, marks a seminal moment in which the artist retrospectively reflected on his sculptural achievements and celebrated the symbols, motifs and techniques which he had honed during his enquiry into sculptural representation. In his Back to Venice work, Chadwick depicts two figures, a seemingly male and female sitting beside each other in magisterial stillness. In the present work Chadwick concentrates solely on the female form, experimenting with conveying femininity through the slightness of line, rendered expertly in bronze. Working primarily with single figures or couple formations in his later works, First Girl Sitting On Bench is paradigmatic of Chadwick’s later sculptural output, whereby the artist had honed his visual language and execution, synthesising his life’s work into his regally cloaked forms.

    Rigid in stature, as if supported by a geometric skeleton, Chadwick’s female figure in the present work appears to be wearing armour-like garments, bridging the gap between Henry Moore’s 1940s drapery in his Shelter Drawings and the progressive cubist abstraction of the European milieu. Capturing the contemporary zeitgeist of artistic rebellion after World War Two, Chadwick’s figures are animated although static, appearing upright, alert and contemplative. Gazing out serenely, Chadwick’s figure is executed in a figurative abstract style and cast in bronze, a medium which the artist began utilising in the late 1950s. Creating his own unique technique of constructing metal frames for his figures, Chadwick would fill the varying planes with stolit, a medium applied like plaster to his skeletal frames. Cast in bronze, Chadwick worked first hand on these sculptural works at his foundry at Lypiatt Studio in Gloucestershire. In the present work we see exquisite areas of ribbed definition and organic folds to the body of the female figure, created with a French plasterer’s comb which has been pulled through the stolit to produce body and movement through her corset-like waist. Working the sculpture intensely from the inside out, Chadwick remarked ‘the iron frames of the construction still delineate the mass and act as lines of tension’ (the artist’s statement for The New Decade, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1955).

    Synthesising his artistic vocabulary in his later work and distilling shape and form to a geometric purity, Chadwick’s later figures are triangular in essence, their shoulders atop with a pyramid-like head with the shape reflected in their tessellated triangular body armour and the slope of their shoulders and cloaks. Evident in the present work and emphasised by the seated nature of the female figure, as the art critic Ken Johnson notes, ‘In the 1950s [Chadwick] developed a spiky vocabulary of skeletal lines and rough planes organized into generalized images of people or animals that evoked feelings of pain, rage and fear’ (Ken Johnson, ‘Lynn Chadwick, a Sculptor, Is Dead at 88,’ The New York Times, 4 May 2003). Conveying the lively essence of his static figures through the heavy medium of bronze, Chadwick asserted ‘The important thing in my figures is always the attitude- what the figures are expressing through their actual stance. They talk, as it were, and this is something a lot of people don’t understand’ (the artist, in Barrie Gavin Interviews, HTV West, 1991).


First Girl Sitting On Bench

incised with the artist's signature, dated, numbered and stamped with the Burleighfield foundry mark 'CHADWICK C68 1988 4/9' on the base of the cloak
99 x 115 x 78 cm (38 7/8 x 45 1/4 x 30 3/4 in.)
Executed in 1988, this work is number 4 from an edition of 9.

£220,000 - 280,000 

Sold for £249,000

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 4 October 2018