Rebecca or The Large Water Carrier

    Rebecca or The Large Water Carrier

  • Valentine Prax bequest, 1981
  • [1927]
  • Bronze, proof 2/5, Susse foundry, Paris
  • Inv. MZS 174
  • Musée Zadkine
  • Garden

The bronze presented here was based on an original wooden sculpture by Zadkine today kept in the Kröller-Müller Museum, in Otterlo in the Netherlands. In the middle of the 1920s, Zadkine began carving a Rebecca, also entitled the Water Carrier, in a block of service tree wood, or sorbus domestica, which he decided to enhance with colour highlights. As a continuation of this creative work, a polychrome plaster was produced, based on the wooden sculpture. This plaster was acquired by Baron Marc de Nicolas du Plantier, a collector and interior designer who kept it in his possession until May 1969. Photographs show this plaster in Marc du Plantier’s Parisian apartment. In 1969, Marc du Plantier approached Valentine Prax, Zadkine's widow, for permission to cast the plaster in his possession in bronze. Valentine Prax agreed.

And so the copy presented to the museum – the third of four which were then cast – came into being. This Rebecca is very representative of Ossip Zadkine’s work in the 1920s. Along with other avant-garde sculptors from the beginning of the century, Gaudier-Brzeska, Matisse and Modigliani, Zadkine drew on archaic forms and primitivism to break with the conventions of traditional art. Here Zadkine combines the representation of the body carved directly into the wood of the tree and the free expression of the ancient myth. The character represented resumes the posture of the caryatids which he had previously carved in wood but displays a slender stature with more fluid lines. Presented in the museum garden and blending in with the trees, this work retains "the heady perfume of the forest" to quote his own words.