Emile-Antoine Bourdelle

Leda and the Swan c. 1919

Inscribed : A monsieur Chautard avec tous remerciements Bourdelle (To Monsieur Chautard with all my thanks Bourdelle)
Inscribed : Mythe de Léda (Myth of Leda) and Bourdelle’s monogram
H: 51.5, W: 32 cm


Private French Collection


This watercolor, Leda and the Swan, can be dated to 1919 by comparing it to a smaller watercolor of the same subject, which went up for public sale (Rostand-Fillaire, May 11, 1990, #3, repr.). Bourdelle did many treatments of this mythological subject—for instance, forty watercolors of the scene are included in a book published by Astragale in 1974. Reproduced thanks to the efforts of Daniel Jacomet, these Ledas are accompanied by a text by Pierre Louys.

The dedication of this watercolor indicates that it was given to Monsieur Chautard by Bourdelle. Bourdelle didn't like to part with his drawings, and so, in order to not lose them entirely when he gave them away, he often made himself a copy. The Bourdelle Museum has a watercolor (inv. 5560) that is no doubt the copy he made when he gave this one to Chautard; the dimensions are almost identical, though there are slight differences in the composition and tonalities.