Reclining Female Nude
Signed Albert Toft
Bronze with brown patination
Height: 7 7/8'' (20 cm)
Conceived and cast circa 1907
In Toft’s Reclining Figure, a beautifully modelled woman lies atop a rock with her head covered by a turban, leaving her eyes partially uncovered. Another cloth drapes the figure’s legs, hiding her modesty and folding behind her back, covering the rock upon which she is lying. Because of the figure’s stance, her torso curves slightly upwards, occupying the central part of the composition.
Through the arrangement, Toft sets up a tantalising interplay between nudity and concealment, demonstrating his technical mastery in his depiction of the human form as well as drapery. The work’s diffused eroticism is highlighted by the figure’s features, who appear as if in a blissful dream.
Writing about the artist in 1901, Marion Spielmann described how ‘there is a vein of real poetry in Mr Toft’s ideal work, an idea which is expressed in the marble or bronze – or more often in the clay – with distinct individuality’ (British Sculpture and the Sculptors of Today, p.124).
Spielmann – the greatest contemporary commentator of the New Sculpture movement after Edmund Gosse – captures perfectly Toft’s sculptural prerogatives, which are summarised in the present Reclining Figure. Just like his Spirit of Contemplation (1901), Toft focuses on the figure’s modelling and on the suggestiveness and languidness of her pose, leaving out any superfluous element; it is through such suggestiveness that the sculpture’s poetic charge becomes evident.
Interestingly, the artist both signed and dated this cast. While New Sculpture bronzes are often inscribed with the year of conception, the presence of such a specific date (21st January 1907) is rather unusual, suggesting that the model was likely commissioned or cast to commemorate a special event, making this bronze a particularly rare object.