Arriving in Paris from Romania in 1904, Constantin Brancusi found inspiration in ancient Cycladic sculptures and African art. His goal in sculpture was to reveal the essence of a subject rather than its exterior form. To achieve this objective, Brancusi abandoned the academic method of modeling in clay and instead carved directly from stone. Brancusi believed in basic forms as a path to truth. His disregard for anatomical detail and his celebration of elemental shapes are exemplified in A Muse. He first carved a marble version of A Muse in 1912. Revisiting the form in 1917, the artist did not simply make an identical copy; rather, he elongated the bust and arm and modified the facial features for greater simplicity. In A Muse, Brancusi explores the classical form of ideal female beauty, rendered in the simplified shapes of Cycladic art. This version in highly polished bronze displays a hard, streamlined beauty forecasting the machine aesthetics of modern art.

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Constantin Brancusi, French, born Romania, 1876–1957
A Muse
Polished bronze with limestone base
19 5/8 × 11 11/16 × 9 5/8 in. (49.8 × 29.7 × 24.4 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by Mrs. Herman Brown and Mrs. William Stamps Farish

Current Location
The Audrey Jones Beck Building
Accession Number

Commissioned by John Quinn, 1917; sold by the artist to John Quinn, New York, 1918; Estate of John Quinn, c. 1924-1926; Earl Horter, Philadelphia, April 23, 1926-1936; Ray Spreter, Galdwyne, 1936-1961; bought by MFAH with funds provided by Mrs. Herman Brown and Mrs. William Stamps Farish, 1962.