Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
An alabaster sculpture on a square black base.

The sculpture in white alabaster shows a nude woman kneeling, her body is arched so the top of her head touches her toes. The form is rounded, her thighs slope upward to her stomach. Her large breasts point to the right. Her arms are bent to frame her head. Her hair is yellowish brown. The sculpture sits on a square, shiny, black base.

Gallery Text

The objects in this case present different visions of the female body. Statuette or vessel, funerary offering or object of worship, decorative feature or conscious work of art, they would have elicited very different — though not mutually exclusive — responses when seen in their original contexts. Some called for symbolic or religious understanding and were used in ritual, such as the Cycladic figure; others invited their viewers to reconstruct a narrative scenario, such as the Aphrodite binding her sandal; whereas yet others offered visceral aesthetic, sensual, and perhaps even tactile delight. One of the bodies here — Lachaise’s Woman Bending Backward — is not from the ancient world, but, like many other European and American works, depends very much on Greco-Roman models and ideals, even as it distances itself from them, for example with a pose not known from representations of women in antiquity.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Gaston Lachaise, American (Paris, France 1882 - 1935 New York, NY)
Woman Bending Backward
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3200, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Classical Sculpture
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

12.7 x 22.9 x 10.2 cm (5 x 9 x 4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: On base: G.Lachaise, Signed Date: 1926


Recorded Ownership History
Artist, sold; to Georgia O'Keeffe, acquired by 1929; Lois Orswell, acquired 1946(?), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1995.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Lois Orswell
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), cat. no. 95, fig. 33, pp. 74-75, 325, 373

Exhibition History

  • 20th Century Abstract Painting and Sculpture, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 04/16/1947 - 05/18/1947
  • Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/21/2002 - 02/16/2003
  • 32Q: 3200 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Verification Level

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