Research Curator Marjorie Searl speaks about this object.
This is Marjorie Searl speaking about the sculpture The Mountain by Gaston Lachaise.
Where we might see a rock, sculptor Gaston Lachaise would see a human form trying to emerge, as he did in the carved stone on view here. The Mountain is one in a series that the artist made in a variety of materials, including cement, stone, and bronze, in which he explored the reclining female form. While the base of the dark stone retains its rough surface, the finish of the figure itself is smooth and velvety, suggesting the feel of human skin to the touch. The woman’s ample form was modeled on Lachaise’s wife, Isabel, who was the inspiration for most of his female nudes and the reason for his emigration to the United States from France in 1906. He said, “You may say that the model for the Mountain is my wife. It is a large generous figure of great placidity, great tranquility.” A nine-foot version in this series is in a park near the 59th Street Bridge in New York City.
Through the artist’s stepson, a student at Harvard College, Lachaise was introduced to a group of individuals who would help advance his career in significant ways. One of them, the poet e.e.cummings, wrote about Lachaise’s sculpture for a literary magazine called the Dial, which was co-published by James Sibley Watson, Jr., a native Rochesterian and son of the founder of the Memorial Art Gallery in 1913. The Watson family supported Lachaise’s career by commissioning and purchasing his sculpture and assisting him financially in other ways. The Mountain was a recent gift to MAG from a member of the Watson family.
On your way out of the Gallery, be sure to view the two full-sized sculptures by Gaston Lachaise in the Vanden Brul Sculpture Pavilion.
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