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A carved, columnar wooden sculpture on a small square base, and a wider flat top.

The carved wooden sculpture has a small square base from which rises a slender curved length with a raised front panel, six raised, rounded horizontal bars separate the slender column from a thicker section over which a tapered section rises to a rough square block. A two stepped thinner square tops the sculpture and is wider at the top.

Gallery Text

Brancusi spent his first month in Paris in the studio of sculptor Auguste Rodin, but he soon abandoned that artist’s approach to modeling in favor of direct carving, beginning with limestone, moving on to marble, and finally, in 1913, adding wood to his repertoire. Caryatid II, from the classical term for a carved female figure used as a support in architecture, was made as both sculpture and pedestal; Brancusi stacked works in varying arrangements in his studio. The forms of this sculpture appear to be borrowed from African art, although Brancusi dismissed such speculation. When Brancusi sold the work to collector John Quinn, it had forms resembling legs, most of which the artist removed before it was displayed in a 1926 exhibition. The resulting work is not only shorter, but also more abstract; a viewer who approaches it from the back, however, will be confronted with the unquestionable anthropomorphism of its arched spine.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Constantin Brancusi, Romanian (Hobita (Gorj), Romania 1876 - 1957 Paris, France)
Caryatid II
Work Type
1914; reworked 1926
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1300, Modern and Contemporary Art, Early Modernism
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Physical Descriptions

165.4 x 42.6 x 46 cm (65 1/8 x 16 3/4 x 18 1/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Constantin Brancusi, sold; to John Quinn, New York, New York, 1916. Henri Roché, possibly 1926, sold; to [Staempfli Gallery, New York, New York, 1959-1968], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1968.

NOTE: Henri Roché may have acquired the piece from one of the Quinn Estate auctions in 1926.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift in part of William A. Coolidge, Joseph H. Hazen Foundation, Inc., Mrs. Max Wasserman; Purchase in part, Francis H. Burr Memorial and Alpheus Hyatt Funds
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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Publication History

  • Judith Zilczer, 'The Noble Buyer': John Quinn, Patron of the Avant-Garde, exh. cat., Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, D.C, 1978), p. 150
  • William Rubin, ed., 'Primitivism' in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, 1984), vol. II, p. 344, reproduced in color, 2 views
  • Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press, 1985). With an essay by John Coolidge and a preface by John M. Rosenfield. To accompany the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler Museum, Oct 21 1985 - Jan 5 1986, p. 58, fig. 49, ill. (color)
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 151, p. 133, repr.
  • James Cuno, Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Ivan Gaskell, and William W. Robinson, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, ed. James Cuno, Harvard University Art Museums and Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 192, ill. p. 193
  • Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
  • Carmen Giménez, ed., Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things, exh. cat., Tate Gallery Publishing Limited (London, UK, 2004), pp. 108-109, cat. 28 (repr. in color, backward)
  • The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, auct. cat. (2/5/05-7/23/05), p.1
  • Geijutsu Shincho (Japan, 2007), p. 46, ill.
  • Kikuro Miyashita, Amedeo Modigliani: La Legende de Montparnasse, Shotor Museum (Japan, 2008), p. 50, repr.
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 194, ill.
  • Colette Czapski Hemingway, "Caryatid", Sculpture Review, National Sculpture Society (New York, NY, 2009), Vol. LVIII, No. 4, p. 13, ill. (color)
  • Matei Stircea-Craciun, Brancusi Limbajele Materiei, Editura Anima (Bucharest, Romania, 2010), p. 213, ill. (black and white)
  • Doïna Lemny, Constantin Brancusi: la chose vraie, Éditions Gourcuff Gradenigo (Paris and Montreal, 2022), pp. 80, 83, fig. 76, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

  • Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000
  • Constantin Brancusi: The Essence of Things, Tate Modern, London, 01/29/2004 - 05/23/2004; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 06/10/2004 - 09/19/2004
  • Brancusi and Serra in Dialogue: Sculpture in Relation to Base and Architecture, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, 02/05/2005 - 09/24/2005
  • HAA 1 Survey Course (S421): Landmarks of World Art and Architecture (Spring 2010), Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/05/2010 - 05/09/2010
  • 32Q: 1300 Early Modernism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Verification Level

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