© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

In 1908 Brancusi began a series of sculptures on the theme of the torso. The earliest of these are simply body fragments, almost classical in style, in which naturalistic details indicate the subject. By contrast, the later works in the series are almost entirely abstracted; anatomical detail gives way to pure forms, a curve and an angle rendered in stone that conveys the translucency of young skin. These forms are revealed through direct carving, the method Brancusi prized above all, although he often replicated works in plaster or metal. Throughout the torso series, a single feature is made to stand for the whole body, an approach to depiction that was as important to modern sculpture as it was to cubist painting. Brancusi’s innovations would resonate throughout the twentieth century.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Constantin Brancusi, Romanian (Hobita (Gorj), Romania 1876 - 1957 Paris, France)
Torso of a Young Girl
Work Type
Level 1, Room 1300, Modern and Contemporary Art, Early Modernism
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Physical Descriptions
33.02 x 22.86 cm (13 x 9 in.)
Collection of the artist, sold; to John Quinn (1922-1924) sold; his sale [Brummer Gallery, 1926] ; to Mary H. Rumsey, NY. [Buchholz Gallery, New York], sold; to Lois Orswell (1950?- 1998) bequest; to the Harvard University Art Museums.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, The Lois Orswell Collection
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Publication History

Judith Zilczer, 'The Noble Buyer': John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-Garde, exh. cat., Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, D.C, 1978), p. 151

Friedrich Teja Bach, Constantin Brancusi: Metamorphosen Plasticher Form, DuMont Buchverlag (Köln, Germany, 1987), reproduced b/w, pp. 464-465

Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 9, fig. 27, pp. 62-63, 306, 374

Carmen Giménez, ed., Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things, exh. cat., Tate Gallery Publishing Limited (London, UK, 2004), p. 78, cat. 6 (repr. in color), p. 55 (text)

Dore Ashton, On Constantin Brancusi, Raritan: A Quarterly Review, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ, 2006), p. 26, fig. 2

Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra, brochure (Basel, Switzerland, 2011), ill. (color)

Oliver Wick, ed., Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra: A Handbook of Possibilities, exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler (Basel, 2011), p.191, ill.

Exhibition History

A Century of Sculpture, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 03/30/1950 - 05/18/1950

Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things, Tate Modern, London, 01/29/2004 - 05/23/2004; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 06/10/2004 - 09/19/2004

Brancusi and Serra in Dialogue: Sculpture in Relation to Base and Architecture, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, 02/05/2005 - 09/24/2005

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 08 Rotation 2), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/23/2008 - 11/16/2008

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 09 Rotation 2), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/16/2009 - 11/08/2009

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 10 Rotation 2), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/15/2010 - 11/06/2010

Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra: Resting in Time and Space, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, 05/22/2011 - 08/21/2011

HAA 10 Survey Course (S421): The Western Tradition: Art Since the Renaissance (Fall 11 Rotation 2), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, 10/07/2011 - 11/05/2011

32Q: 1300 Early Modernism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at am_moderncontemporary@harvard.edu