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Constantin BRANCUSI

Femme au peigne or Profil de femme au chignon

Gouache on paper
Signed lower right C. Brancusi
49 x 37 cm (19 ¹/₄ x 14 ⁵/₈ inches)

H.R.H. the Maharajah of Indore, Yeshwant Rao, called Rao
Henri-Pierre Roché, Paris
Private collection, by descent, Paris
Private collection, Paris

Brussels, BOZAR, Brancusi, la sublimation de la forme,October 1 2019-February 2 2020, cat.160 rep. page 151
(Curator : Mrs. Doïna Lemny, “attachée de conservation” at Musée national d’Art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris)

The authenticity of this work was confirmed by Margit Rowell, on January 4th, 2018.


The delicate gouache of a bowed female head Femme au peigne is a rare painted work on paper by Brancusi, whose entire non-sculptural œuvre numbers less than two hundred pieces, primarily portraits of women and nudes. 

He almost never drew preliminary studies for his sculptures, but most are independent aesthetic explorations. Brancusi prized these works enough to show them in formal exhibitions, first at gallery Brummer in Paris and later in New York. Although Brancusi’s paintings and drawings demonstrate an approach to form entirely consistent with his sculptural œuvre, these graphic media encouraged a far greater gestural liberty than wood, stone, or bronze.

Femme au peigne was painted circa 1912, in the midst of a brief, decisive period in which Brancusi attained the elemental purity of form that would define his signature modernist achievement for his entire career. As in his sculpture, Brancusi often painted and drew in series of variations, with a marked tendency toward simplification as he moved through a theme. “In his drawings, Margit Rowell has written, Brancusi provides significant clues as to his vision and his priorities”(Constantin Brancusi, exh. Cat. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1995, p. 287)

The present gouache is one of three paintings and at least three drawings in which Brancusi explored the motif of a young woman in profile, her gaze cast downward, her head and neck forming a single, smooth arc.