Help us bring life to art, and art to lives. Make a donation.

Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Guitar

Henri Laurens (French, 1885–1954)
ca. 1919
Painted terracotta
11 1/2 x 7 x 5 in. (29.2 x 17.8 x 12.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Saidenberg, 1984
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 908
Musical references permeate Cubist painting and sculpture. The guitar, depicted often by Pablo Picasso, is one of the most recognizable Cubist motifs. Like a Cubist painting, Laurens’s sculpture blurs, even inverts, the relationship between solids and voids; solids appear to recede, while voids assume physical presence. This effect is particularly apparent in the face of the guitar, which has given way to a segment of the instrument’s sound hole, over which Laurens has depicted strings.
(sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, December 23, 1927, no. 88 or 89, as "Guitare," sold for Fr 250 or 480 to Galerie Simon); [Galerie Simon, later Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1927–47; stock no. 10256, photo no. 7549; sold in 1947 to unidentified private collection]; private collection (from 1947); [Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, until 1969; sold in 1969 to Saidenberg]; Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Saidenberg, New York (1969–84; their gift to MMA)

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of French Art Deco," August 4, 2009–January 23, 2011, no catalogue.

"Revue des ventes." Gazette de L'Hôtel Drouot (December 27, 1927), p. 1, lists two terracotta guitars sold at the Hôtel Drouot on December 23, 1927.

Marthe Laurens. Henri Laurens: Sculpteur 1885–1954. Paris, 1955, p. 50, no. II–5, ill., calls it "Instrument de Musique" and dates it 1918.

Lisa M. Messinger in "Twentieth Century Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1984–1985. New York, 1985, p. 54, ill.

Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 119, colorpl. 95 (front and back).

Related Objects

Bird in Space

Artist: Constantin Brancusi (French (born Romania), Hobita 1876–1957 Paris) Date: 1923 Medium: Marble Accession: 1996.403.7ab On view in:Gallery 913

Sleeping Muse

Artist: Constantin Brancusi (French (born Romania), Hobita 1876–1957 Paris) Date: 1910 Medium: Bronze Accession: 49.70.225 On view in:Gallery 901

Oval Form with Strings and Color

Artist: Barbara Hepworth (British, 1903–1975) Date: 1966 Medium: Elmwood and painted Elmwood with cotton strings Accession: 2007.95 On view in:Gallery 920

Woman of Venice II

Artist: Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, Borgonovo 1901–1966 Chur) Date: 1956 Medium: Painted bronze Accession: 1999.363.25 On view in:Gallery 907

Maquette for "Arbre Cubiste (Cubist Tree)"

Artist: Jan Martel (French, Nantes 1896–1966 Paris) Date: 1925 Medium: Painted wood Accession: 1997.110 On view in:Gallery 912