Model for Nenuphar

Copied Alexander Calder, Model for Nenuphar, 1968, aluminum and wire, 1620 1418 34 in. (40.551.347.6 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Alexander Calder, 1968.62.2

Artwork Details

Model for Nenuphar
1620 1418 34 in. (40.551.347.6 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of Alexander Calder
Mediums Description
aluminum and wire
  • Abstract
  • Study — sculpture model
Object Number

Artwork Description

Model for Nenuphar is a maquette for the monumental sculpture Nenuphar that artist Alexander Calder gave to the American Art Museum in 1968, then called the National Collection of Fine Arts. Calder often worked out his ideas in miniature form by using pliable materials such as aluminum and wire. He used this model to determine the placement of individual pieces and the dimensions for the finished piece, which is almost seven times larger than this maquette. The numbers on each section, which correspond to a location on the central stem, reveal the sculptor’s creative process and indicate how to reassemble the piece. Calder’s inspiration for this sculpture was a family of water lilies called nenuphar. He used abstracted shapes to suggest the swift movement of shadows, whether from birds, fish, or leaves dancing in the wind. The full-scale Nenuphar can be found on the third floor in the Museum’s Lincoln Gallery.