French, born Romania, 1876–1957
Mademoiselle Pogany II, 1920
17 1/4 x 7 x 10 inches (43.8 x 17.8 x 25.4 cm)
Charlotte A. Watson Fund, 1927
Constantin Brancusi met the Hungarian painter Margit Pogány in Paris in 1910. After visiting his studio, she asked Brancusi to create her portrait and sat for him several times. Following Pogány’s return to Hungary, Brancusi carved her likeness in marble from memory. A bronze cast was then made from the marble original. In the fall of 1913, Brancusi wrote to Pogány that he had completed both marble and bronze versions of her portrait, and asked which one she would prefer. She asked him to choose and received the bronze version along with a note asking her not to touch it, in order to prevent fingerprints from ruining the effect. Seven years later, Brancusi created a second version of her portrait, both in marble and, as seen here, in bronze. The eyes, which Brancusi felt were Pogány’s most distinguishing feature, are extremely large, and her arms blend together in a graceful movement upwards. Nearly twenty years after the first portrait, and more than ten years after the second, Brancusi created one more version in which Pogány’s features are even more abstracted. But he was not sure that the third would be the last, saying, “Perhaps I may think of a still better interpretation someday. Who can say that a work of art is ever finished?”
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