We are grateful to Virginia Budny, author of the forthcoming catalogue raisonné sponsored by the Lachaise Foundation, for her assistance in preparing the catalogue entry for this work.
One of Gaston Lachaise's most popular works, Torso is a hollow-backed high relief representing an artfully cropped section of a seductively posed nude. The present bronze cast was produced shortly after five initial, nickel-plated examples, including the one owned by the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, had been made in 1925. It closely compares with the uninscribed cast said to have been sold to a private collector in the early 1930s, and now in another private collection. The artist’s signature and copyright date inscribed on the back of the present example were ground into the metal as a finishing touch by Lachaise himself.
Other casts made during Lachaise’s lifetime that are located today are the uninscribed example at the Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums (cast by 1928), and a coherent group of six casts, four of which are legibly inscribed with the copyright date of 1928. Those six casts are the examples owned by the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, Maine (cast by 1929); the Colby College Museum of Art; Gerald and Kathleen Peters, New York City; and another private collector; and the ones formerly owned by M. R. Werner (cast by 1929) and Richards H. Emerson, and now in private collections. Posthumous casts include those in the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York (cast at the end of 1936 or January 1937); the New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico (cast by 1938); the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts (cast by 1957); and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (cast by 1962). Of an edition of four numbered casts authorized by the Lachaise Foundation (established in 1963 to administer the artist’s estate), three, each silver-plated, have been produced.
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This report was prepared by Tatti Art Conservation:
The above piece is in an overall fair condition in appearance; however, it is in good condition structurally. The current finish on the surface appears to be breaking down quite unevenly. The outer most coating on the surface appears to be an opaque black, paint like coating, which is most visible in the crotch, above the waist, at the proper right underarm. There is a secondary layer appears to be a more traditional patina or tinted lacquer finish which presents as a red-brown finish, which can be found in trace areas such as below the naval and above the crotch. The last presenting surface appears to be an unfinished and tarnished bronze which is fairly prevalent throughout the work.
Structurally, the piece is sound, however the plaster at the underside was not leveled and the entire sculpture does not sit flush.