The present bronze is part of a series of classical heads created by Elie Nadelman in marble, wood and bronze, from 1910-13. Many of these works were introduced in a one man show at the Druet in Paris which traveled to the Paterson Gallery in London in 1911.
The entire group was purchased from that exhibition by the cosmetics entrepreneur Helena Rubenstein. Madame Rubenstein, who was also born in Poland, shared the sculptor’s aesthetic and philosophy on classical beauty. Only two casts of Head of a Boy were cast—the present gilt bronze example and a painted bronze (private collection).
Nadelman was an instant success when he moved from his native Warsaw to Paris in 1904, and became a member of Gertrude Stein’s circle of avant garde artists and writers. After the success of the exhibitions in Paris and London, his work was included in the Salon des Independents and the 1913 Armory Show with the support of Alfred Stieglitz. With the outbreak of World War I and the promise of important commissions in New York (primarily from his patroness Helena Rubenstein), the sculptor immigrated to the United States.