Gaston Lachaise

Standing Woman

Not on view




Overall: 70 5/8 × 28 1/2 × 19 1/8in. (179.4 × 72.4 × 48.6 cm)

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Larger than life, fully modeled, and sensuously powerful, Standing Woman belongs to an inventive body of work that French-born sculptor Gaston Lachaise produced on a single subject: the shapely form of an American woman, Isabel Dutaud Nagle. Lachaise described Isabel, who was first his mistress and later his wife, as “the Goddess I am searching to express in all things.” Created in plaster and subsequently cast in bronze, the sculpture possesses a striking physical immediacy: from the figure’s swelling breasts and hips to her small waist and gently tapered fingertips, she seems the epitome of earthy womanhood. Lachaise was fascinated by mass, whether it was made of flesh or metal, yet his Standing Woman is perched on improbably tiny feet, making her bulk seem somehow airy. Isabel appears at once massive and weightless—ample and ethereal—a modern incarnation of prehistoric fertility figures such as the Venus of Willendorf.


  • Human Interest

    Gaston Lachaise, Standing Woman, 1912–27

    Gaston Lachaise, Standing Woman, 1912–27


    Adam Weinberg: The inspiration for this monumental sculpture by Gaston Lachaise was the artist’s lifelong muse, Isabel Dutaud Nagle. When they first met in Paris, Isabel was just visiting from the United States, was married to another man, and was the mother of a child. In spite of all of these obstacles, and the fact that Isabel was ten years older than he, the artist left his native France for America in the hopes of being with her. They married in 1917, five years after he made this sculpture. As was often the case, Isabel didn’t pose for this work. Lachaise created her image from memory. The result is an intensified expression of desire and devotion. Isabel was only five foot three, but here the artist has envisioned her as a larger-than-life goddess. He has given her wide hips and large breasts, features you might find in an ancient fertility goddess. And the gesture of her slender hands and curved fingertips is reminiscent of an Indian Buddha. She bears a meditative, other-worldly expression and stands on tip-toe, as if endowed with divine powers.

    The artist’s extensive love letters to Isabel articulate the same passion that his sculptures exude. In 1915, three years after making this work, the artist wrote Isabel, calling her: “A beautiful goddess of heavy breasts and splendid white belly, goddess of sublime thoughts of tranquility and strength. You are the harmony of heaven and earth. I sing my hymn to you . . . You inspire my every moment.”

Gaston Lachaise
25 works

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