The Wrestlers

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (French (active in Britain), 1891–1915)

Object Place: Europe, France


71.76 x 92.08 cm (28 1/4 x 36 1/4 x 2 in.) Approximately 70 LBS

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View





Despite early and intense admiration for Rodin, after moving to London Gaudier-Brzeska developed an equally wild enthusiasm for the “primitive.” A friend commented that he “was always talking ‘savage’ and ‘barbaric’ and gloated over the free and exotic life of the south seas.” These sinuous, seemingly weightless wrestlers combine Gaudier’s enthusiasm for non-Western art with the excitement he felt at wrestling matches: “I went to see the wrestlers. -God! I have seldom seen anything so lovely. … They fought with amazing vivacity and spirit, turning in the air, falling back on their heads, and in a flash were up again on the other side, utterly incomprehensible.”


1915, by inheritance at the artist's death to his companion, Sophie Brzeska (d. 1925), Gloucestershire, England [see note 1]; 1927, sold from the estate of Sophie Brzeska to Harold Stanley (Jim) Ede (b. 1895 - d. 1990), Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, England; 1965, sold by Ede to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 8, 1965)

[1] Gaudier-Brzeska used his oil painting Portrait of a Whitechapel Jew (MFA accession no. 65.1683.2) as the support for his plaster relief The Wrestlers (MFA accession no. 65.1683.1). The painting and relief were separated by the MFA shortly after the object was acquired.

Credit Line

Otis Norcross Fund