Sacrifice III

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”

― David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

Sacrifice III, Lipchitz, Jacques, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Sacrifice III is one of my favorite sculptures – I have seen it in several places and in different versions.

From an MIT web page:

After his escape from France in 1941, Lipchitz frequently turned to images of ancient Jewish sacrificial ceremonies, rooted in his heritage. Sacrifice III, modeled in 1949 and cast in bronze in 1957, was the final work in the series. The first treatment was a small clay sketch of 1925.

Lipchitz returned to the theme in 1943, and in 1946 began the series of drawings, clay studies, and finished sculptures that led directly to the final version of Sacrifice III. The theme of ritual sacrifice was catalyzed by the fate of the Jews during World War II.

Lipchitz remarked in an interview with Frederick S. Wight in 1961 that he depicted “a certain kind of ritual which we perform on a certain occasion. We are charging some kind of cock with all our sins, and we are offering this animal full of our sins for expiation.”

The 1943 image of this ritual was made “during the darkest moment of Hitler… I charged the animal…with all our sins and I prayed, it is like a real prayer, and afterward I had to sacrifice the cock.” The final sculpture is solemn, laden with the tragedy of the Holocaust.

I went ahead and did some research on this sculpture – primarily to figure out why it depicts Abraham sacrificing a rooster rather than his son, Isaac. In doing this I discovered that the great and famous painter, Modigliani, had done a portrait of Jacques Lipchitz and his wife, Berthe.

I can’t imagine how cool it would be to have a Modigliani portrait of myself.

Amedeo Modigliani. Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz. 1916. Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 54.3 cm. Art Institute of Chicago.

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