DESPIAU, Charles

Mont-de-Marsan, Landes 1874 - Paris 1946

Léda et le cygne

Leda and the Swan



medal and plaquette

Dimensions (HxWxD): without wooden mount: 6 12 x 5 116 with wooden mount: 9 12 x 7 12 in.

signed and dated, incised at lower right: C. Despiau / 1918 [cast with the work]
inscribed, incised at lower left: A M. Birnbaum [added later]

Acc. No.: 66.105.1

Credit Line: Gift of Martin Birnbaum, 1966

Photo credit:, August 9, 2011

© Artist:


  • 1966, Gift of Martin Birnbaum


  • 1922 Roger-Marx
    Claude Roger-Marx, Charles Despiau, Paris, 1922, p. 13, 17, 61
  • 1944 Crowninshield
    Frank Crowninshield, "Despiau, foremost sculptor of our time", Vogue, May 15, 1944, p. 136 ("Despiau makes very few casts of his works, eight as a maximum, and sometimes as few as three. His casts are, for the most part, made by Valsuani, in Paris... and are numbered and signed... Though Despiau's personal preference is for bronze, he occasionally makes casts in pewter.")
  • 1960 Birnbaum
    Martin Birnbaum, The Last Romantic: the story of more than a half-century in the world of art, New York, 1960, p. 224-225 (states that in 1927 Despiau "was completing a seated figure, calling to mind the Penseur de Rodin whom Despiau at one time assisted... I acquired the entire edition of the original version of that figure for American collectors. There were six replicas and as a reward for my interest, the artist gave me a number of drawings, studies for that bronze, and some small bas-reliefs which were dedicated to me.")

Related works

  • See another version of the subject, 66.105.2.
    Claude Roger-Marx: 8 examples made (this version or another?); the artist often decorated the socles of his busts with small plaquettes or medallions. This version appears in Despiau's bust of the painter Léopold Lévy (1921).
    A similar version appears on the back of the base of Despiau's Madame Othon Friesz (plaster, 1924, NY, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 55.21.8ab).