The Wrestlers
linocut, circa 1914, on laid paper, an extremely rare lifetime impression, inscribed `with Henri Gaudier Brzeska's compliments - 1914 - /[March] 25. Winthorpe Road Putney' in black ink
Block 225 x 278 mm.
Sheet 242 x 312 mm.
Oscar Raymond Drey (1885-1976); then by decent to the present owner.
Gaudier-Brzeska was a prominent figure in the avant-garde movement. Despite a tragically short life and career, he created an astonishing amount as an artist. He was born in France and first came to Britain in 1908-10. Self taught and primarily a sculptor, his forms show rhythm, economy and weight, qualities exemplified in Wrestlers, the only linocut he produced.

Gaudier-Brzeska began to establish himself as a sculptor in 1912. Initially influenced by Auguste Rodin, he went on to explore the modernist movements of Cubism and Vorticism. He worked in isolation until he met the writer John Middleton Murray in 1912, after which he built up a circle of artists and intellectuals who included Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis and Mark Gertler.

Gaudier-Brzeska met Horace Brodzky (1885-1969) in London in 1911/12 and began bringing his etchings to Brodzky to print on his etching press. Brodzky was an Australian-born artist and writer and an early adopter of the linocut process in Britain. Gaudier-Brzeska’s Wrestlers and linocuts by Brodzky were included in the First Exhibition of British Linocuts at the Redfern Gallery, London, in 1929. This groundbreaking exhibition was organized by Claude Flight, the Vorticist linocut artist and founder of the Grosvenor School of Art. It is likely that impressions of Wrestlers by Brodzky, signed and numbered from an edition of fifty, were printed posthumously.

Oscar Raymond Drey was a patron of Gaudier-Brzeska and an acquaintance of H.S. Ede (1895-1990). In the late 1920’s Ede, a fellow enthusiast, began to form one of the largest collections of Gaudier-Brzeska’s work, much of which is now on display at Kettles Yard, Cambridge.

Impressions of the Wrestlers, can be found in the British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Princeton University Art Museum, Kettles Yard and a small number of others.

To our knowledge this rare work is the only inscribed, lifetime impression to come to auction in the last twenty five years.
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