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Lot 3242* - A199 Impressionist & Modern Art - Friday, 03. December 2021, 04.00 PM


(Vitebsk 1888–1967 Paris)
Oiseau. 1929.
Bronze, green and golden patina, partially polished.
Signed on the base: O. Zadkine.
H 80 cm.

We would like to thank the Zadkine Research Center for their assistance.

- Quincy Adams Shaw McKean collection, Boston, acquired directly from the artist circa 1930.
- Jonas van Straaten collection, New York.
- Private collection USA.
- Private collection Belgian, acquired from the above heirs.

- Paris 1929, Salon d'automne, 3.11.–22.12.1929, no. 1786.
- Chicago 1931, Sculptures by Zadkine, Arts Club of Chicago, no. 24.
- Bruxelles 1933, Zadkine, Palais des Beaux Arts, no. 100.

- Sylvain Lecombre: Ossip Zadkine, L'œuvre sculpté, Paris 1994, p. 209 and p. 269, no. 223 (with ill.).
- Paul Haesearts: Ossip Zadkine. La Sculpture ailée, Amsterdam 1939, No. VIII.
- Ionel Jianou: Zadkine l'artiste et le poète, Journal Artcurial, Paris 1979, p. 72, no. 183.

The present bronze sculpture, ‘Oiseau’, is distinct in Ossip Zadkine's oeuvre, as the motif strongly stands out from his other works. Depictions of animals are relatively rare for the artist. In 1924 Zadkine created his first bird, the ‘Oiseau d’Or’, a golden plaster sculpture of a standing bird, which he later produced in bronze. Brancusi’s amorphous, golden statue of an abstract bird from 1923, ‘Oiseau’, served as his inspiration. Over the course of the 1920s, more birds were created in different materials. In 1939 Paul Haesaert wrote the following about Zadkine's bird sculpture:
“When walking through a Zadkine exhibition, have you ever had the impression that there were not sculptures on pedestals, but rather several birds on perches?
As you approached, have you not feared that these birds would, with screams, singing and cawing corresponding to their various plumages, flap their wings, leave their pedestals and turn the showroom into a huge aviary?
Upon closer inspection, many of Zadkine's sculptures are actually birds; birds made of bronze, iron, marble, and wood.
Some still heavy with the burden of a bygone existence, with puffed up bodies that look like iguanodons, others proud, fine and as lithe as reeds” (trans. from French in: Haesaert. Ossip Zadkine, la Sculpure aillé, De Spiegel. Amsterdan et Het Kompas, Amsterdam 1939).

Our sculpture was created in 1929, thus slightly later in the canon of birds. This delicate sculpture, with its half-polished patina, is reminiscent of the aesthetics of the period and possesses features of the Art Deco style. Towards the end of the 1920s, Zadkine had in fact made good contacts with numerous designers and interior decorators, often collaborating closely with them. At the beginning of the 1930s, the designer Nicolas Marc Du Plantier acquired a considerable number of sculptures directly from Zadkine in order to integrate them into his interior concepts. This decorative vein is also unmistakable in our bird and eventually culminated in a series of commissioned works in collaboration with important contemporary decorators in the 1930s. In addition to Brancusi and Art Deco, his encounters with Alberto Giacometti in the mid-1920s did not escape Zadkine’s notice, which can be clearly seen in the neck of our ‘Oiseau’.

Shortly after completion, ‘Oiseau’ was acquired by the American collector Quincy Adams Shaw McKean directly from Zadkine. Since its creation in 1929, the sculpture has been exhibited three times: first in the same year at the Salon d'Automne in Paris, then in 1930 in Chicago under the ownership of McKean, and finally in 1933 the sculpture was last presented to the public at the Palais des Beaux Art in Brussels. Since then, ‘Oiseau’ has remained in private collections and is now on the market after almost 90 years in private ownership.

Only two copies of ‘Oiseau’ are known to date, and according to the Zadkine Research Center, there are most likely no others. Both copies are early casts from 1929. The second sculpture is in a private French collection.

CHF 160 000 / 220 000 | (€ 149 530 / 205 610)

Sold for CHF 409 000 (including buyer’s premium)
All information is subject to change.