Elie Nadelman (1882-1946)
Kneeling Dancer (Dancing Figure)
inscribed 'Elie Nadelman' (on the underskirt)
bronze with brown patina
2912 in. (74.9 cm.) high on a 112 in. (3.8 cm.) base
Modeled circa 1916-17; cast by 1918.
Mrs. John Alden Carpenter, by 1921.
Kraushaar Galleries, New York, by 1932.
John F. Kraushaar, New York.
Estate of the above.
Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, 9 April 1947, lot 129, sold by the above.
Mrs. Henry T. Curtiss, Weston, Connecticut, by 1973.
Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, New York, 1978.
Barney A. Ebsworth, Seattle, Washington, acquired from the above, 1979.
Estate of the above.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
(Possibly) "Art and Artists: Contemporary American Art Exhibition at Scott & Fowles," New York Evening Globe, November 12, 1917.
(Possibly) F.W. Eddy, "News of the Art World: American Contemporary Art at Its Best Capably Shown...," New York World, November 19, 1917.
(Possibly) "Nadelman and Pascin at Scott and Fowles," New York Sun, November 19, 1917.
(Possibly) "Nadelman and Manship," New York City American, November 25, 1917, illustrated.
(Possibly) H. McBride, "Exhibitions at New York Galleries: Nadelman, Demuth and Other Modern Artists," The Fine Arts Journal, vol. 35, no. 12, December 1917, pp. 51-52.
(Possibly) "Sculpture at a New York Salon: The Work of a Triumvirate of Modern Sculptors," Vanity Fair, vol. 9, no. 5, January 1918, p. 54, illustrated.
"Exhibit Works of Polish Sculptor," Chicago Journal, May 27, 1925, illustrated.
"Attractions in the Galleries: Several Notable Displays Round Out the Season Impressively," New York Sun, May 28, 1932.
C. Burrows, "A French Draftsman in Brooklyn; Varied: Ten Sculptors," New York Herald Tribune, May 29, 1932.
Dance Index, vol. 6, no. 4, April 1947, illustrated.
L. Kirstein, Elie Nadelman, New York, 1973, p. 239, no. 39, another example illustrated.
J. Perl, "Elie Nadelman," Arts Magazine, vol. 53, no. 2, October 1978, p. 9, illustrated.
S. Ramljak, et al., Elie Nadelman: Classical Folk, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2001, p. 27, another example as cover illustration.
B. Haskell, Elie Nadelman: Sculptor of Modern Life, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2003, pp. 89-90, fig. 103, another example illustrated (as Dancing Figure).
D. Ngo, ed., Art + Architecture: The Ebsworth Collection + Residence, San Francisco, California, 2006, n.p., illustrated.
S. Udall, Dance and American Art: A Long Embrace, Madison, Wisconsin, 2012, p. 241, fig. 131, illustrated.
(Possibly) New York, Scott & Fowles, A Small Collection of Contemporary Art in America, 1917, no. 15 (as The Dancer).
Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago, The Arts Club Exhibition, Sculpture by Elie Nadelman, 1925, no. 8a.
New York, Kraushaar Galleries, 1932.
New York, Rockefeller Center, The Forum, First Annual Fine Arts Exhibition, 1934.
Dallas, Texas, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, The Centennial Exposition: Department of Fine Arts, 1936, p. 121, no. 25.
New York, Milch Galleries, Special Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture, 1937.
(Possibly) Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1937.
New York, Marie Sterner Gallery, 1946-47.
St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Art Museum; Honolulu, Hawaii, Honolulu Academy of Arts; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, The Ebsworth Collection: American Modernism 1911-1947, November 20, 1987-June 5, 1988, pp. 140-41, 212, no. 48, illustrated (as Dancing Figure).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Twentieth-Century American Art: The Ebsworth Collection, March 5-November 12, 2000, pp. 183-85, 291-92, no. 46, illustrated (as Dancing Figure).
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Lot Essay

Elie Nadelman combined an intellectual, often witty perspective with a contemporary idiom and masterly technique to produce individual and important sculpture, such as Kneeling Dancer (Dancing Figure). As in his best works, the artist’s approach was to create an uncomplicated connection of curves and forms with little ornamentation. With his characteristic economy of detail, in Kneeling Dancer (Dancing Figure), Nadelman conveys the grace and purity of the female figure in an authentically modern manner.

Born in Poland in 1882, Elie Nadelman studied in Warsaw and Munich before establishing a sculpture studio in Paris. His years in France from 1906 to 1914 propelled the artist to unprecedented success with revered exhibitions, established patronage and critical acclaim. Nadelman was visited, befriended and admired by leading Modern artists, such as Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi and Amedeo Modigliani, and patronized and reviewed by the Parisian avant-garde, including André Gide, Guillaume Apollinaire, the Natanson brothers and Leo and Gertrude Stein. Indeed, Leo Stein admired Nadelman’s work so much that he brought Picasso to the young sculptor’s studio in 1908. In 1914, at the outset of World War I, Nadelman set out for New York with the assistance of Helena Rubenstein, the cosmetics entrepreneur and notable patron of Modern Art. The artist was already known in the United States from his participation in the 1913 Armory Show, his advancement by the art historian Bernard Berenson and the publication of his drawings and statements by Alfred Stieglitz. As a result, Nadelman was quickly swept into New York bohemian circles and established close relationships with other American artists, including Florine Stettheimer, Paul Manship and George Bellows.

Nadelman modeled Kneeling Dancer (Dancing Figure) circa 1916-1917 during an incredibly important period of his career, as his growing reputation in New York was leading to several prominent commissions and museum accessions. Originally executed in marble for William Goadby Loew’s estate in Old Westbury, Long Island, the figure was then cast in three-quarter scale in bronze and exhibited at Nadelman’s triumphant 1917 New York exhibition at Scott & Fowles. This show, which possibly included the present cast, helped further establish Nadelman in his new country, inspiring critic Henry McBride to write of the display, “It is, in a word, refined. It is in the highest degree a before-the-war art. It is culture to the breaking point… It seems to breathe out all the rare essences that were brought by the wise men from all the corners of the earth to be fused by the Parisians…into the residuum called ‘modern civilization,’ which now, so many millions are dying for… In this sculpture, the past and the present are blended almost cruelly” (H. McBride, quoted in L. Kirstein, The Sculpture of Elie Nadelman, New York, 1948, p. 45).

Kneeling Dancer (Dancing Figure) is a beautifully balanced work that, as McBride asserted, blends past and present to stunning effect. The sculpture transforms a classical figure dancing in traditional dress into a streamlined, modern arrangement of curving line and form. Each limb and balletic movement appears perfectly counterbalanced by its opposite. Indeed, Kneeling Dancer (Dancing Figure) was specifically highlighted by a reviewer of the Scott & Fowles exhibition as “an architectonic composition… an inward circulation of muscular relations to which the externals of the figure necessarily and unfailing adapt themselves” (H. Mcbride, “Nadelman and Manship,” New York City American, November 29, 1917).

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