Lynn Chadwick (British, 1914-2003) Two Reclining Figures 191.8 cm. (75 1/2 in.) long

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Lot 108* AR W
Lynn Chadwick
(British, 1914-2003)
Two Reclining Figures 191.8 cm. (75 1/2 in.) long

Sold for £ 446,500 (US$ 578,575) inc. premium
Lynn Chadwick (British, 1914-2003)
Two Reclining Figures
stamped with initial and numbered '642/C/3/4/P.E' (at the base of the male's neck)
bronze with a grey patina
191.8 cm. (75 1/2 in.) long
Conceived in 1972 in an edition of 4


  • Provenance
    Private Collection, Canada

    London, Marlborough Fine Art, January-February 1974 (ill.b&w, another cast)
    London, Tate Britain, Lynn Chadwick, 15 September 2003-21 March 2004, unnumbered (another cast, where lent by Lypiatt Studio)

    Dennis Farr, Lynn Chadwick, Tate Publishing, London, 2003, p.74-76 (ill.b&w, another cast)
    Dennis Farr & Éva Chadwick, Lynn Chadwick, Sculptor, Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2006, p.282-283, (ill.b&w, another cast)

    Two Reclining Figures (another cast) was one of only thirty four sculptures exhibited at Tate Britain's diverse exhibition, Lynn Chadwick (15 September 2003-21 March 2004). At almost two metres in length the figures are life-size and exude a relaxed aura, resting partly on their sides. The male and female figures are joined at the thighs so that the sculpture is one, monumental unit, heightening their sense of togetherness. There is an intimacy inherent in this piece which is difficult to locate in Chadwick's sculptures from the 1950s and 60s. The male, positioned behind, lifts his right thigh and hip as if he may be about to envelop his partner in a protective and tender moment. The gentle and naturalistic modelling, bordering on erotic, of the female's torso and breasts recalls Chadwick's slightly earlier Elektra I (1968). In the present lot, however, the sculptor has opted for retaining the more natural finish of the bronze, rather than polishing these sections into sleek, shiny surfaces. And it rejects the rougher more primitive finish of his first major figure groups, The Watchers (1960). The lady contrasts most effectively with the more rigid, angular planes of her partner. He is less rounded and voluminous, and the two exquisitely complement one another. It is likely the couple are simply sunbathing, raising their necks so that their faces, at right angles to their bodies, are fully exposed to the rays of the sun they are apparently worshipping.

    Tate's catalogue, accompanying their exhibition, comments on the present sculpture:

    'The familiar process of preliminary maquettes in which he tested out ideas was followed here, but there is a new authoritativeness, a new versatility of means at his command, that marks out his mature style. He was also consolidating, building on his earlier work certainly, but having established his formal language, as it were, he needed to refine and enrich it.' (Dennis Farr, Lynn Chadwick, Tate Publishing, London, 2003, p.76)

    As was often Chadwick's practice, a smaller maquette preceded the larger version of Two Reclining Figures. Whilst this sculpture (Farr & Chadwick 644), measuring just 38cm. in length, in essence is identical to the present lot, the figures' heads are tilted at a more obtuse angle so that their rectangular and triangular faces are not as prominently displayed. This subtle manipulation of the maquette was quite typical, as Dennis Farr remarks:

    'He could always make a figure larger, working from a maquette, but it would never be a literal transcription on a larger scale, for he always felt the urge to introduce a new element, a modification to the pose, say, or a different treatment of the surface textures' (Op. Cit. P.68)

    It is also interesting to note that, on this occasion, the sculptor decided not to produce polished face versions of this life-size piece; only four casts exist, therefore.

    Just two years later Chadwick continued with the Two Reclining Figures theme, this time scaling back their sizes. In Two Reclining Figures datable to 1974 (Farr & Chadwick 643) the artist has again used the same positioning of the couple, with the heads almost lying flat. Whereas with Two Lying Figures (Farr & Chadwick 645) the pair are turned inward, facing one another, as if engaged in a quiet conversation that only they are privy too.

    Significantly, Two Reclining Figures was made the year after Chadwick and his wife Eva established their own foundry, at Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire. With Eva by his side, and looking after the business side of his profession, Chadwick emerged out of a period of debt in the 1960s into one with more financial stability. His international reputation had long been secured, and with the luxury of his own foundry from 1971 the sculptor was able to scrutinize the accuracy and quality of the casting process.

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