Mademoiselle Pogany [I]

Constantin Brancusi, French (born Romania), 1876 - 1957

Date:
1912

Medium:
White marble; limestone block

Dimensions:
17 1/2 x 8 1/4 x 12 3/8 inches (44.4 x 21 x 31.4 cm) Base: 6 x 6 3/8 x 7 inches (15.2 x 16.2 x 17.8 cm)

Copyright:
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Curatorial Department:
Modern and Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1933-24-1

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, 1933

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Additional information:
  • PublicationConstantin Brancusi: 1876-1957

    Of all the works in Brancusi's first two American exhibitions (New York, Sixty-ninth Regiment Armory, International Exhibition of Modern Art {The Armory Show}, 1913; Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago; Boston, Copley and Allston Hall, and New York, Gallery of the Photo-Secession, An Exhibition of Original Sculpture, in Bronze, Marble and Wood, by Constantine Brancusi of Paris [sic], 1914), Mademoiselle Pogany attracted the greatest attention. Its detractors likened it to a hard-boiled egg on a sugar lump; others, more enlightened, saw in it the finesse and technical perfection of a Chinese jade. The features that inspired the most comments were the nose (likened to a bird's beak by some critics); the enormous, bulbous, almond-shaped eyes; the delicate treatment of the ear; and the snake-like chignon.

    The story of this motif, reworked in several variants by Brancusi over a long period of time has become legendary. The sitter was a Hungarian girl who had come to Paris to study painting; Brancusi first met her in 1910. After a number of visits to his studio, she asked him for a portrait and during her last two months in Paris, December 1910 and January 1911, she sat for him several times. The clay studies that he made in her presence were destroyed every time, though several drawings survive (see Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1947-88-10). After she returned to Hungary, he carved this marble portrait head from memory.

    The photography of Margit Pogany and her own painted self-portrait (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1966-173-1) testify that Brancusi set out to capture the essence of his sitter. They show her small round head dominated by a smooth, austere coiffure and large, deep-set eyes under heavy brows. Margit Rowell, from Constantin Brancusi 1876-1957 (1995), p.120.