The sculpture, which is estimated at $20m-30m, is one of six cast in bronze in 1913 after the original 1909-10 marble. Four of those casts are currently housed in museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. The version in question was acquired by French collector Jacques Ulmann in the 1950s and has remained in his family ever since.
“La muse endormie has a magical amplitude – displaying a formal genius and wondrously modulated patina,” says Jessica Fertig, senior vice president of Christie’s. “Brancusi considered each of these bronzes a unique work of art and oversaw the patination process during casting to ensure variations between every bronze.”
The bronze the first of the artist’s ovoid sculptures and marks the start of his move towards abstraction. It is signed Brancusi on the back of the neck, is stamped with foundry mark C. Valsuani Cire Perdue and measures 10 ½ in (26.7cm) long.
The record price for a Brancusi is currently held by Christie’s. It was set at the Yves Saint Laurent sale at in 2009 when his 1957 Madame LR took €37.62m (then £42.39m) including buyer’s premium over a high estimate of €20m.