Femme Leoni : A short history from 1947 to 1958
A photograph of Alexander Liberman taken in 1951 in Alberto Giacometti's studio presents the first known version of the Leoni Woman. The hair characteristic of this plaster is already recognizable, while thin legs with small feet are based on a stand composed of two parts.
The painted face of the sculpture is perfectly visible on an image taken by Sabine Weiss in 1954. These features are still visible on the plaster today. The pedestal and wider feet have been modified, but do not seem yet finished.
In 1956, the base of the sculpture was reworked by the artist before he exhibited the piece for the first time at the Kunsthalle Bern. The plaster, which is shown under the title Figure V, is displayed next to the Women of Venice created at the beginning of the same year.
It was not until 1959 that Giacometti chose the title Leoni Woman, as a tribute to Peggy Guggenheim's Palazzo Venier dei Leoni. The lower part of the sculpture has been greatly reduced. The base became a rectangular shape and the feet were completely removed. The piece is presented on an exhibition stand in order to catch up with the height.
After the exhibition, Giacometti return to the parts of the sculpture that leave him dissatisfied. He sculpts big feet and tilts the top of the base. The piece is finally sent to the foundry in 1957, where the plaster is cut in two pieces and coated with a shellac. After the melting of some prints, the artist, still unhappy with the piece, decides to add an additional base.
The painted plaster is today in the collection of the Giacometti Foundation.
A major restoration was done in 2017 to erase the traces left by the foundry.
by Michèle Kieffer
Head of the Giacometti Committee and Researcher - Sculptures