• La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman) - Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
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La Femme Inconnue (The Unknown Woman)

Ossip Zadkine

(Russian/French, 1890-1967)

Signed with monogram O.Z.
Stamped Susse Fondeur, Paris, Cire Perdue, and numbered 3/6
Bronze with a rich blue patination
Height: 19" (48.3 cm)

Conceived in 1965. This example cast in 1966
Part of an edition of 6


Modeled in 1965, only two years before Zadkine’s death, La Femme Inconnu is typical of the sculptor’s later work. Constructed from interconnected geometric shapes, here Zadkine replaces the smooth finish of earlier models with a nervous almost twitching bronze surface.

We see an unknown woman twisting slightly from the waist, her left shoulder raised as if to protect her face from the viewers glare. Her right arm disappears just above the elbow and a large opening through the bronze punctures the left side of her torso. The pierced circular head is also a feature of a number of Zadkine’s later sculptures, including Astarte (1959) and Les Amis (1965).

Unlike works such as Torse De Femme (1953), Phedre (1954) and Tête de Femme (1965), which borrow the bulbous curves and naïve representations of African tribal art, La Femme Inconnu sits very much within Zadkine’s cubist oeuvre. The work calls to mind Picasso and Braque’s early cubist pictures, where seemingly unrelated shapes come together to form a recogniseable form. Zadkine’s own brilliance is in his ability to fuse this practice with the grace and movement so clearly evident in the present work.

Born in Vitebsk (now Belarus), Zadkine eventually settled in Paris in 1910 following a period at art school in London. In Paris he studied briefly in the studio of Jean-Antoine Injalbert before setting up on his own. His early career was linked heavily with that of the emerging cubist movement and Zadkine met regularly with Brancusi, Picasso Serge Ferrat and later Modigliani with whom he shared a studio after World War I. Zadkine went on to have a celebrated and highly successful career, including large exhibitions at Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam, Parisian Musée National d’Art modern, Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam and The Tate Gallery London.

Zadkine: Astarte, Bronze, 1959

Zadkine: Les Amis, Bronze, 1965

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