1918; cast between 1923 and 1929

Bronze with black pigmented wax coating and selectively gilt (likely with powdered gold in a binder).

22 1/2 x 53 x 7 1/2 inches
Inscribed (top of self-base, right): G . LACHAISE/© 1922
Stamped (back of self-base): ROMAN BRONZE WORKS N–Y–
One of fourteen casts made between 1922 and 1929.

 

Provenance

Kraushaar Galleries, New York
Samuel Josefowitz, Lausanne, acquired from the above in 1962
Collection of Meyer & Vivian Potamkin, Philadelphia, PA, 2002–03
Private Collection, New York

 

Literature

Donald Bannard Goodall, “Gaston Lachaise, Sculptor,” 2 vols. (Ph. D. diss., Harvard University, 1969), vol. 2, p. 486.

Michael Frank, “Eclectic Defined in New York,” Architectural Digest, vol. 66, no. 1 (January 2009), pp. 72–73 (illustrated).

Julia Day, Jens Stenger, Katherine Eremin, Narayan Khandekar, and Virginia Budny, Gaston Lachaise: Characteristics of His Bronze Sculpture, Cambridge Mass.: Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, Harvard Art Museums, 2012, p. 68.

One of Gaston Lachaise’s most popular works, The Peacocks, not only expresses the artist’s deep love for wild creatures but also exhibits his delight in creating opulent, energized, rhythmically interrelated forms. The plaster model for the group was included in his first solo exhibition at the Bourgeois Galleries, New York, in 1918, and helped to establish his reputation as an important new artist. It was reproduced in the following year in Vanity Fair (vol. 12, no. 2, April 1919, p. 25). Lachaise registered the copyright for the composition in June 1922, and a total of fourteen bronze casts of the work (of a projected edition of twenty) were made according to his specifications at the Roman Bronze Works, a New York foundry, between that date and 1929 for John Kraushaar, director of the C. W. Kraushaar Galleries in New York City, who purchased the entire edition.

Six casts are now in the following public collections: the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; the Detroit Institute of Arts; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Newark Museum; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. A seventh cast, privately owned, has been on loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., since 2008. The plaster model, last documented in 1932 at the Roman Bronze Works, is lost (the edition appears to have remained incomplete as a consequence of the 1929 Wall Street Crash). Lachaise, who viewed peacocks and other wild animals as embodiments of fundamental force, regularly visited the New York Aquarium and the Bronx Zoo for both pleasure and profit, and in later years he expressed the hope of stocking a private zoo with seals and peacocks on the grounds around his country home in Georgetown, Maine.