Work of Modernist Sculpture, American Impressionist Painting Added to Amon Carter Museum Collection

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Release date: 
January 18, 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas– The Amon Carter Museum has added a major work to its holdings of early 20th-century American sculpture: a bronze with brown patina and nickel plate entitled Woman Seated by Gaston Lachaise (1882–1935). The acquisition was supported by funds from The Council, a membership group that was established in 1988 to honor Amon G. Carter’s vision as a collector.

“Though small in size, this sculpture is remarkably seductive and powerful, and it is most likely the first of only four known lifetime casts,” said Rebecca Lawton, curator of paintings and sculpture. “We are extremely appreciative of our Council members. Their support helps the museum fulfill its mission to collect the finest examples of American art.”

At 16 years of age, the Parisian-born Lachaise had already earned a place in the famed sculpture studios of the École des Beaux-Arts. Not long afterward, he met Isabel Dutaud Nagel, a married Canadian-American woman 10 years his senior. She became the love of his life and the reason he left for America in 1905. In 1916 Lachaise became an American citizen, and in 1917 he and Isabel were married.

Although Lachaise’s plaster Nude with Coat (1912) was included in the landmark Armory Show of 1913, his first solo exhibition did not occur until 1918, when the dealer Stefan Bourgeois showed a selection of his sculptures and drawings. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held in 1935 at the Museum of Modern Art, that museum’s first show devoted to a living sculptor. Lachaise’s untimely death later that year cut short a promising career.

Woman Seated, which is a portrait of Isabel, brings to full measure Lachaise’s vision of modern womanhood and his aesthetic philosophy of “amplification and simplification.” The work is about one foot tall and bears the hallmarks of his expressive line as well as his innovative use of nickel plating to articulate the figure’s gown, slippers and hair comb. The work reveals Lachaise’s profound knowledge of his craft and the breadth of his technical ability.

The museum also recently added a beautiful work of American impressionism to its holdings. Upper Harlem River (ca. 1915), an excellent example of Ernest Lawson’s (1873–1939) aesthetic contribution to landscape painting, was a gift from the esteemed Margaret and Raymond J. Horowitz collection of American art. Lawson’s contemporaries, particularly the painters in Robert Henri’s circle, championed his art, professing it a new and progressive approach to landscape painting.

The sparsely populated areas of northern Manhattan were Lawson’s preferred painting grounds, and the wintry scene depicted in Upper Harlem River is most likely the area known as Devil’s Mouth at the confluence of the Hudson and Harlem [East] rivers. At the time, the area was still largely free of development, and Lawson consistently invested this suburban wilderness with his own intense responses to nature.

“The painting represents an artist at the height of his powers, when he was most adept at translating the artistic underpinnings of French impressionism into a uniquely American style,” said Lawton.

Both of these works are now on view in the galleries. Admission to the Amon Carter Museum is free.

The Amon Carter Museum houses one of the nation’s preeminent collections of American art, from works by the early 19th-century artist-explorers through those of the mid-20th-century modernists and up to the work of contemporary photographers. The museum also holds one of the most comprehensive collections of work by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.