Gaudier-Brzeska, Henri (1891-1915), 'Wrestlers', Linocut, c.1914

'Wrestlers', Linocut, c.1914

Please Note: This item is not for sale.
Signed by Brodzky and numbered ‘imp. 31/50’ in black ink. Printed on thick wove paper. It is unlikely the projected edition of 50 was completed. Printed posthumously.

This is the only linocut produced by the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. In his 1933 biography Brodsky wrote ‘Brzeska saw me at work, cutting designs at my home, and he decided to do some also. Being near Christmas time he cut a version of his ‘Wrestlers’ to be used as a card’.

Gaudier based his design on a 1914 plaster relief of the same subject now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Gaudier-Brzeska’s interest in the subject of wrestlers was inspired by his visits to the London Wrestling Club, off Fleet Street, in 1912-1913. He made numerous drawings from life and wrote in a December 1912 letter to Sophie Gaudier Brzeska:

‘Last night I went to see the wrestlers – God! I have seldom seen anything so lovely – two athletic types, large shoulders, taut, big necks like bulls, small in the build with firm thighs and slender ankles, feet sensitive as hands, and not tall. They fought with amazing vivacity and spirit, turning in the air, falling back on their heads, and in a flash were up again on the other side, utterly incompressible. They have reached such a state of perfection that one can take the other by a foot and, without exaggeration, can whirl him five times round and round himself, and then let go so that the other flies off like a ball and falls on his head – but he is up in a moment and back again more ferocious than ever to the fight. I thought he would be smashed to bits. I stayed and drew for two hours and am going to begin the statuettes on Sunday’.

Image 22.5 x 27.8 cm
Paper 27.9 x 38.3 cm
Collections V & A; British Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; Princeton University Art Museum; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; Harvard Art Museums
Literature Carey & Griffiths, ‘Avant-Garde British Printmaking 1914-1960’, British Museum Publications Ltd, 1990, cat. no. 18, p. 45