Front / Recto

  • Title Golden Bird
  • Negative Date 1920
  • Print Date 1920–25
  • Medium Gelatin silver print
  • Dimensions Image 9 × 6 3/4" (22.9 × 17.1 cm)
    Sheet 9 5/16 × 7 1/16" (23.7 × 17.9 cm)
  • Place Taken Paris
  • Credit Line Thomas Walther Collection. The Family of Man Fund and gift of Elizabeth Lorentz, by exchange
  • MoMA Accession Number 1636.2001
  • Copyright © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Back / Verso

  • Mount Type No mount
  • Marks and Inscriptions Signed in pencil on sheet verso, top right: C. Brâncusi. Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, top right: Maiastra/a Madame Mills. Inscribed in pencil on sheet verso, bottom right: Octant.
  • Provenance The artist, Paris; given to Mariette Mills, Paris and Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, France [1]. An architect, Paris [2]; to the architect's son, Paris [3]; through Hôtel Drouot, Paris, to Galerie Octant (Alain Paviot), Paris, 1985–86 [4]; purchased by Thomas Walther, June 23, 1986 [5]; purchased by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2001.
    [1] Inscription by the artist on sheet verso. Mariette Mills was a painter who gave the artist his dog, Polaire. Mariette and her husband, Heyworth Mills, were American expatriates in France with many connections in the art world. Brancusi planned to install one of his Bird in Space sculptures in the park on the couple’s property in Clairefontaine.
    [2] Alain Paviot, e-mails to Simon Bieling, June 13 and October 26, 2005; and Paviot, conversation with Maria Morris Hambourg, Paris, September 2013. Paviot does not remember the name of the architect or his son.
    [3] Paviot, e-mails to Bieling; and Paviot, conversation with Hambourg.
    [4] MacGill/Walther 2001(3), p. 3; and Paviot, e-mails to Bieling. Paviot said he acquired the print from a small auction in Paris.
    [5] Galerie Octant invoice, June 23, 1983.


  • Surface Sheen Semireflective
  • PTM
    View of the recto of the artwork made using reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) software, which exaggerates subtle surface details and renders the features of the artwork plainly visible. Department of Conservation, MoMA
  • Micro-raking
    Raking-light close-up image, as shot. Area of detail is 6.7 x 6.7 mm. Department of Conservation, MoMA
    Raking-light close-up image, processed. Processing included removal of color, equalization of the histogram, and sharpening, all designed to enhance visual comparison. Department of Conservation, MoMA

Paper Material

  • Format Metric
  • Weight Single weight
  • Thickness (mm) 0.18
  • UV Fluorescence Recto no data
    Verso no data
  • Fiber Analysis Softwood bleached sulfite 35%
    Hardwood bleached sulfite 5%
    Rag 45%
    Bast 15%
  • Material Techniques Developing-out paper
  • XRF

    This work was determined to be a gelatin silver print via X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry.

    The following elements have been positively identified in the work, through XRF readings taken from its recto and verso (or from the mount, where the verso was not accessible):

    • Recto: S, Ca, Zn, Sr, Ag, Ba, Pb
    • Verso: Al, Si, S, Ca, Fe, Zn, Sr, Ba, Pb

    The graphs below show XRF spectra for three areas on the print: two of the recto—from areas of maximum and minimum image density (Dmax and Dmin)—and one of the verso or mount. The background spectrum represents the contribution of the XRF instrument itself. The first graph shows elements identified through the presence of their characteristic peaks in the lower energy range (0 to 8 keV). The second graph shows elements identified through the presence of their characteristic peaks in the higher energy range (8 to 40 keV).

    Areas examined: Recto (Dmax: black; Dmin: green), Verso or Mount (blue), Background (red)
    Elements identified: Al, Si, S, Ca, Ag, Ba
    Areas examined: Recto (Dmax: black; Dmin: green), Verso or Mount (blue), Background (red)
    Elements identified: Fe, Zn, Ag, Sr, Pb

In Context

Related Images

Constantin Brancusi. Golden Bird. c. 1919–20. Base c. 1922. Bronze, stone, and wood, 86 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4" (217.8 x 29.9 x 29.9 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago. Partial gift of The Arts Club of Chicago; restricted gift of various donors; through prior bequest of Arthur Rubloff; through prior restricted gift of William E. Hartmann; through prior gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Carter H. Harrison, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold H. Maremont through the Kate Maremont Foundation, Woodruff J. Parker, Mrs. Clive Runnells, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson, and various donors. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
Constantin Brancusi. Self-Portrait in the Studio. c. 1920. Gelatin silver print, 14 5/16 x 11 5/16" (36.4 x 28.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Elizabeth Lorentz. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris

Historical Publications

  • Pound, Ezra. “Brancusi.” The Little Review 8 (Autumn 1921): 17.

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