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Photo: © Kettle's Yard


Torpedo Fish (Toy), 1914 (posthumous cast, 1968)

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska
Bronze cast
160 x 40 x 30 mm
[HGB 104]
On display

About the artist

Born 1891 – Died 1915

Henri Gaudier was born in St. Jean de Braye, near Orleans, in France. He first came to Britain in 1908.

Read the full biography


Gaudier’s interest in the animal world was ideologically driven. Even though he never really abandoned city life, he rejected urban culture and the values of the bourgeoisie which he associated with it. He insistently sought contact with nature and wished to live the life of the ‘noble savage’, inspired by his readings of contemporary philosophy. The animal world provided him with a refuge from urban alienation.

However, his involvement in Vorticism led Gaudier to explore quite consistently the combination of natural and industrial subjects and imagery. The choice of the torpedo fish is fitting. It is capable of generating an electric charge to defend itself from attack. The association of electricity, the driving force of modernity, with the animal world provided an ideal subject for a Vorticist work.

Torpedo Fish was made for the philosopher T.E. Hulme, one of the theorists of Vorticism. Hulme shared with Gaudier a fascination with boxing and wrestling – and, according to contemporary accounts, both positively relished picking fights in the streets. Created as a ‘pocket sculpture’, it is not difficult to envisage it being used as a knuckleduster.

A close-up photo of a wooden table with pebbles, shells, a vase of flowers and a small sculpture on it.

Torpedo Fish (Toy) on display at Kettle’s Yard



Torpedo Fish (Toy), 1914 (posthumous cast, 1968)

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Torpedo Fish (Toy) Find out more


Bird Swallowing a Fish, 1914 (posthumous cast, 1964)

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Bird Swallowing a Fish Find out more