AUGUST E ROD IN INT IMATE WORKS
J I L L N EWH O U S E
AUGUST E ROD IN INT IMATE WORKS
Sculpture Drawings and Watercolors Photographs and Letters
catalogue by Christina Buley-Uribe Dr. Amy Kurlander
Jill Newhouse Gallery 4 East 81 st Street New York, NY 10028 Tel ( 212 ) 249-9216 email: email@example.com www.jillnewhouse.com
This catalogue accompanies an exhibition at The Art Show from March 2 to 6, 2011 and thereafter at the gallery Jill Newhouse Gallery 4 East 81 st Street New York, NY 10028 Tel ( 212 ) 249-9216 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
cover: Edward Steichen , Rodin (Rodin posing with monument to Victor Hugo), cat. no. 39.
copyright 2011 jill newhouse llc
T his exhibition came to life thanks to the contributions ofmany scholars andexperts inthe study of Rodin, as well as with the help of many other people. In particular, I wish to thank Christina Buley-Uribe, expert on the works on paper of Rodin; Dana Gordon, copy editor; Dr. Amy Kurlander, author of the entries on sculpture; Jérôme Le Blay and the Comité Rodin for their research and for the certificates which provided the basis for the entries on sculpture; John Tancock for his knowledge and experience in the work of Rodin in general; Ane Georgiades for sculpture conservation and condition reports; George Wasilczyk; Christa Savino for her invaluable help in the gallery; Larry Sunden for his catalogue design; Robert Lorenszon for photography; Thierry Bidault for French translations of the entries on works on paper; Deborah Rubenstein for her help on the entry for catalogue no. 16 .
1. Alsatian Orphan ( Orpheline alsacienne, version à la tête droite) Conceived 1870 ; carved 1870 – 71 White marble on green marble socle Height 11 inches ( 27 . 9 cm) Signed and dated on the edge of the neck: A. Rodin 1870
provenance Private Collection (acquired before 1940 ); thence by descent; sale, Sothebys New York, May 8 , 2008 ; New York Art Market; Private Collection. literature Cécile Goldscheider, Auguste Rodin: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre sculpté , vol. I, Paris, 1989 , no. 35 (this version), p. 59 ; Albert Elsen, Rodin’s Art: The Rodin Collection, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University , New York, 2003 ; Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 2008 - 1801 B. First exhibited in 1871 , Alsatian Orphan draws its title from a current, deeply felt event, as France had lost Alsace and Lorrain to Germany in 1870 , during the Franco-Prussian war. Alsatian Orphan was one of the first of Rodin’s sculptures to be accepted for public exhibition, and was one of Rodin’s greatest early successes. The marble head enjoyed great critical acclaim in exhibitions of 1871 and 1872 in both Brussels and Ghent. Rodin also exhibited a terracotta example in Rouen, London, and Saint-Malo in 1882 , 1883 , and 1884 , respectively. Albert Elsen has aptly described the formal and expressive achievement of Alsatian Orphan and its departure from the elaborately decorative heads of this early period: “Unlike Rodin’s commercial, flower-bedecked adolescent girls with their eighteenth-century, Clodion-styled broken silhouettes, the design of Alsatian Orphan is strikingly spare and effective. It is a study in the power of simple forms. The almost egglike simplicity of the young head is contrasted with the big indented forms of the drape. Side views show how Rodin fashioned a beautiful ovular line with the folds of the drape that connect with the spherical forehead and then close at the chin, where the drape begins or ends. Figuratively and literally, the composition was made for marble.” 1 There are two versions of this sculpture. The present work is an example of the tête droit version; here, the head is positioned on a straight axis, which lends the work a sober, stoic air. The other version inclines the head slightly to the side and downward ( tête inclinée ) , as if to represent the child in a sad reverie; it is most likely that Rodin conceived this version somewhat later. The exceedingly fine carving and precise details of the present example of Alsatian Orphan , along with the date incised in the marble itself, strongly suggest that it is one of the very earliest examples of the work.
Four other marble examples of this version tête droite are known to exist, along with a plaster at the Cantor Center, Stanford University and terracotta examples at the Musée Rodin, believed to be very early. Three marble examples of the tête inclinée version are known to exist, and are in the collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rheims, the Rothschild Foundation in Paris, and the Musée Rodin.
1 . Albert Elsen, Rodin’s Art: The Rodin Collection, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University , New York, 2003 , p. 44 6
2. Bust of a Woman ( Buste Féminin ; also known à la Ville)
Conceived 1871 ; this example 1897 – 1901 Patinated terracotta, this version made by estampage Height 11 7 ⁄ 8 inches ( 30 . 2 cm) Signed and dedicated on back: Petit (?) hommage à Madame Druet/ A. Rodin
provenance Mrs. Eugène Druet, Paris, from 1901 (gift of the artist); Collection Prouvost, France; Private Collection, France (acquired from the above); sale, Christie’s New York, November 5 , 2003 ; Private Collection. literature Cécile Goldscheider, Auguste Rodin, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre sculpté , Paris, 1989 , vol. 1 , p. 3 6, no. ; Vers l’age d’airain: Rodin en Belgique , Musée Rodin, Paris, March 18 –June 15 , 1997 , pp. 12 6– 7 ; Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 2003 - 340 B. This delightful terracotta is characteristic of Rodin’s decorative works from the beginning of his stay in Belgium ( 1871 – 77 ). Comparable works include Vénus and Love , which current expertise dates 1871 , and Suzon of 1872 . The cast was produced from a plaster mold, almost certainly between 1897 and 1901 , the period in which Rodin was professionally connected to photographer and entrepreneur Eugène Druet ( 1897 – 191 6). The owner of a café called “Le Yacht Club” on the Place de l’Alma, facing Rodin’s studio, Druet worked as Rodin’s principal photographer from 1897 until 1901 . Druet also played a key role in organizing Rodin’s special exhibition at the Place de l’Alma in 1900 , and was in charge of its promotion and installation. During the course of the exhibition, Druet served as Rodin’s representative, overseeing the sale of sculptures while retaining exclusive rights to sell his own reproductions on the premises. The photo sales touched off a serious financial disagreement in the course of the exhibition. Due to the efforts of Druet’s wife, Lucie, to get the two men to agree to terms, their quarrel was resolved after the close of the exhibition, in early 1901 . Though relations between Druet and Rodin never completely recovered, Rodin maintained a warm regard for Lucie. He modeled her portrait during this period, and presented her with an endearing gift, this terracotta bust of a young woman, on which the sculptor inscribed a dedication.
This work is a pendant to another bust titled In the Country , an example of which is housed in the Musée des Beaux Arts in Ixelles, Brussels.
3. Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, 1840–1917 ) in collaboration with Auguste Rodin
Innocence Tormented by Love (Innocence tourmentée par l’amour)
Conceived 1871 ; executed before 1910 Biscuit de Sèvres Height 25 ¼ inches (6 4 cm) Signed on the left side of the base: CARRIER-BELLEUSE
provenance Private collection, Brussels; Private Collection
literature Sander Pierron, “Francois Rude et Auguste Rodin à Bruxelles,” La Grande Revue , Paris, October 1 , 1902 , pp. 138 –6 2 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin , pp. 109 – 10 ; Vers l’age d’airain: Rodin en Belgique , Musée Rodin, March 18 –June 15 , Paris, 1997 , pp. 109 – 10 ; Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 2005 - 11 6 5 B. From 1870 to the autumn of 1877 , Rodin lived in Brussels, where he worked as a praticien (stone carver) and collaborator in the studios of well-known sculptors. Until 1872 , Rodin’s main employer was Eugène Albert Carrier-Belleuse, whose decorative busts and figural groups, which recalled the 18 th century Rococco master Clodion, were highly sought after. Innocence Tormented by Love , signed by Carrier-Belleuse, is now considered an example of the established sculptor’s collaborative work with Rodin, an attribution that dates back to the Belgian writer Sander Pierron’s 1902 article on Rodin, cited above. The theme of this charming work, in which cupids encourage a young woman into sexual awakening, was a popular one in late 19 th century France. Carrier-Belleuse sold the work to Compagnie des Bronzes de Bruxelles, who produced an edition whose exact size is not yet known. The Compagnie produced examples in terracotta, marble, biscuit de Sèvres and bronze, in different sizes. The last of these examples probably dates from around 1910 . According to current expertise, the present work is very characteristic of the Compagnie’s efforts in biscuit de Sèvres, and dates before 1910 .
4. Three studies inspired by Michelangelo’s Tombs of Julian and Lorenzo de Medici, Florence (Trois etudes d’aprés les tombeaux de Julien et Laurent de Medecis de Michel-Ange à Florence) February–March 187 6 Inscribed on the old mount: Trois dessins d’Auguste Rodin / ayant fait partie d’un ensemble certifié par André Schoeller (3.2.54) et provenant du sculpteur Alf. BOUCHER. Sous le sujet de droit (e se) trouvait la mention: … vole sur l (…) a. Reclining Woman with Child, after Night, the Tomb of Julian de Medici; (Femme allongée avec un enfant, d’après La Nuit du tombeau de Julien de Médicis) Ink on paper 2 1 ⁄ 8 x 3 ½ inches ( 5 . 5 x 9 cm)
b. Seated woman with children, after the figure of Lorenzo de Medici (Femme assise aux enfants d’après la figure de Laurent de Médicis) Ink on paper 1 5 ⁄ 8 x 3 3 ⁄ 8 inches ( 4 . 4 x 8 cm) c. Reclining Woman after “Dawn” of the tomb of Lorenzo de Medici ( Femme couchée d’après “L’Aurore” du tombeau de Laurent de Médicis) Ink on paper 2 ¾ x 1 ½ inches ( 7 . 2 x 4 cm)
provenance Removed by Rodin from Album II (now collection Musée Rodin) and given circa 1880 to Alfred Boucher ( 1850 – 1934 ); sale, Paris, Hotel Drôuot, November 15 , 1953 ; unknown Private Collection; sale, Paris, Piasa, December 2007 ; Private Collection. These three brown ink drawings can for the first time be connected to a recently discovered sheet of drawings (fig. 1 , overleaf) assembled by Rodin and given by him to his friend, the sculptor Alfred Boucher circa 1880 . This larger sheet only came to light in 2007 and is now in the collection of the Musée Rodin ( d9443 ). (Anonymous auction, Paris, Hotel Drôuot, November 15 , 1953 ; Jean Marc Delveaux sale, Paris, room 5 , # 115 , April 25 , 2007 ). Rodin liked to travel with numerous small sketchbooks which he would fill with drawings, thus creating carnets de voyages . He would then cut out the drawings and reassemble them, creating an album factise . Such was the case when Rodin went to Italy in February and March 187 6, 1 for the celebration of the fourth centenary anniversary of Michelangelo’s birth. A frequently cited letter, written in Florence to Rose Beuret, describes the strong influence of the Tomb of the Medici on the sculptor: All the photos I had seen of the plaster do not give any real idea of the San Lorenzo sacristy. One must see these tombs in profile, in three-quarter view. Once in front of it (the sacristy), one cannot analyze for the first time what one sees. You will not
be surprised if I tell you that the first hour I was in Florence I made a study after Michelangelo and I believe that the great magician is giving me some of his secrets. 2
The important comment in this letter is “ on analyse pas la première fois ce que l’on voit.” In fact, Rodin’s drawings are not just simple copies but analyses through reprisal and repetition, most likely done from memory. Our three drawings are part of this ensemble. Rodin carefully preserved all the drawings he made while in the chapel, even the most basic. His desire to learn by intimately understanding the forms created by Michelangelo is what helps to explain the transformations he made, the most striking of which is the feminizing of figures, and the addition of children. In such a way, Rodin reconciled his own contemporary compositions, in which the dominant theme is that of the young mother and child, with the discoveries of the master of the Renaissance. The drawing seen on the left ( a ) Reclining Woman with Child is inspired by Night, the Tomb of Julian de Medici . One can see the similarity of pose with the figure’s veiled breasts drawn in a Michelangelesque style, as though female appendages had been added to a manly body. The gesture of the right arm has been changed in order to show the finely drawn hand caressing the baby that Rodin has added to the composition. The same motif appears in the drawing in the Rodin Museum collection, in which the mother’s gesture is summarily drawn, while the children and the folds of the dress are finely worked. The very beautiful center drawing ( b ) is not a study inspired by a Madonna but is in fact a feminized version of Lorenzo de Medici . Like Lorenzo, the figure in Seated woman with children strikes a thoughtful pose, with her left elbow on the left knee, the left hand on the left leg and the elbow up. The position of the legs is also similar to that of Lorenzo, although Rodin has added two putti on the lap of the seated figure. In some ways, it constitutes a sort of pendant to Seated woman with a child at the center of the composition on Boucher’s sheet ( d9443 ). It is interesting to note that until now, these very important drawings had been connected to figures of Madonnas with children; no one had been able to identify the original models who are in fact not sweet virgins, but valiant Tuscany princes. 3 The third drawing ( c ) was probably inspired by the figure of the Dawn, and here again, a putto was added to the foreground. Rodin reproduced this subject at least 3 times: d291 , d278 , and on the Boucher sheet, in the center left, all in the collection Rodin Museum, Paris. We believe that these three drawings were once part of the larger sheet comprised of 30 mounted drawings that once belonged to Boucher (fig. 1 ). Rodin had removed this sheet from what we now know as Album II in the collection of the Musée Rodin which Rodin himself donated to the museum in 191 6 and which Georges Grappe broke apart for exhibition purposes in 1930 . A drawing of a putto now in the collection of the Dubois-Alfred Boucher Museum of Nogent-sur-Seine, was also probably part of this same larger sheet.
Alfred Boucher was a very important person in Rodin’s life. Rodin periodically gave drawings as tokens of friendship or gratitude, but this is the only known example of a gift from one of his earliest albums It was Boucher who had discovered Camille Claudel, and then recommended the young student to Rodin before returning to Italy in 1882 . Rodin knew of Boucher’s deep attachment to Italy and remembered his decisive support of Rodin as a soon-to-be official sculptor, during the 1879 controversy surrounding The Age of Bronze . Rodin was accused of not having actually modeled the sculpture, but of making a caste from life; in essence of being a fraud as an artist. The testimony of Alfred Boucher confirming that he had seen Rodin modeling “des têtes, des membres potelés d’enfants, avec un sûreté, une rapidité étourdissantes” (“heads, children’s chubby limbs, with confidence, with a stunning rapidity”) was essential for Rodin to receive the title of sculptor . This intervention also allowed Rodin to sell The Age of Bronze to the French state and then, a short time later, to receive the commission for the Gates of Hell. An exceptional favor deserves an exceptional gift, from a sculptor to another sculptor: thus Rodin gave Boucher souvenirs from his trip to Italy and from his “notes” made in front of one of Michelangelo’s greatest works. 1 . Rodin’s trip to Italy is generally placed during the early winter 1875 . See note by A. Le Normand-Romain who moved this date to February 1876 , “Rodin and Michelangelo: The Fragmentary, the Hybrid and the Incomplete” in excat, A. Le Normand-Romain, editor, Rodin and Italy, French Academy in Rome , 2001 , p. 38 . 2 . A. Beausire and H. Pinet, editors and annotators, A. Rodin, Correspondence, Paris, Musée Rodin, I, 1985 , no. 13 3 . Kirk Varnedoe was surprised not to find any drawings of the dukes of the Tomb of Médici: “many images we might expect to find are notably missing from the preserved drawings. . . . no image of either the Duomo Piéta or the David . . . ; and no full drawing of either of the seated dukes from the Medici tombs, despite the Lorenzo de Medici’s seemingly indispensable relation to Rodin’s later Thinker.“ See K. Varnedoe “The Trip to Italy, 1875 ” in excat, A. Elsen, ed., Rodin rediscovered, National Gallery of Art, Washington, New York Graphic Society, Boston, 1981 , p. 163 . (Note: The hand of the David is visible in Boucher’s sheet of which Varnedoe was apparently unaware.)
5. Bust of the Age of Bronze (Buste de l’age d’Airain, moyen modèle)
Conceived 1875 – 7 6; reduced version realized in 1903 – 04 , this cast c. 1917 Patinated terracotta
Height 8 ½ inches ( 21 . 2 cm) Signed on back of the neck
Accompanied by original correspondence between Rodin, Auguste Neyt, and Leonce Bénédite
provenance Promised gift of Auguste Rodin to Auguste Neyt, 1908 ; Given by Léonce Bénédite, as executor of Rodin’s estate, to M. and Mme Neyt, Ghent, December 1924 ; thence by descent; Private Collection. literature Truman H. Bartlett, “August Rodin, Sculptor,” in American Architect and Building News , New York, 1889 , reprinted in Albert Elsen, ed. Auguste Rodin: Readings on His Life and Work , Englewood Cliffs, N.J, 19 6 5 pp. 31 – 33 , 39 – 43 ; Judith Cladel, Rodin, sa vie glorieuse, sa vie inconnue , Paris, 193 6, pp. 114 – 21 ; Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Hôtel Biron, Paris, 1944 , pp. 15 – 1 6; Robert Decharnes and Jean-François Chaburn, Auguste Rodin , New York, 19 6 7 ; Leo Steinberg, “Rodin,” in Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art , New York, 1972 , pp. 349 , 358 , 3 6 1 , 379 , 385 ; John Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia , Philadelphia, 197 6, pp. 342 – 5 6; Jacques de Caso and Patricia B. Sanders, Rodin’s Sculpture: A Critical Study of the Spreckels Collection, California Palace of the Legion of Honor , San Francisco, 1977 , pp. 38 – 47 ; Lynne Ambrosini and Michelle Facos, Rodin: The Cantor Gift to the Brooklyn Museum , Brooklyn, 1987 , pp. 57 – 58 ; Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, vie et oeuvre, catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre sculpté , vol. I, 1840 – 8 6, Lausanne-Paris, 1989 , pp. 114 – 1 6; Ruth Butler, Rodin: The Shape of Genius , New Haven, 1993 , pp. 99 – 112 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, ed., Vers L’age d’airain: Rodin en Belgique , excat, Musée Rodin, Paris, 1997 , pp. 24 6– 319 ; Albert Elsen, Rodin’s Art: The Rodin Collection, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University , New York, 2003 , pp. 37 – 48 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, ed., Rodin et le Bronze , Paris, 1997 , pp. 124 – 129 ; (this work) Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 200 6- 904 B. The present work was a gift from Rodin to Auguste Neyt, the model who posed for the original life size version in 1875 – 7 6. Two reductions of The Age of Bronze were realized by Rodin in 1903 – 04 . The larger of the two reductions measures approximately 39 inches ( 99 . 5 cm), and is the basis of the present work. The smaller reduction stands at around 25 ½ inches (6 5 cm). In 1908 , Rodin presented Neyt with a bronze cast of the smaller version, while promising a forthcoming bust that would be derived from the larger one. In fulfilling the terms of Rodin’s testament, Léonce Bénédite, curator of the Musée Luxembourg and the
Musée Rodin, and executor of Rodin’s artistic estate, presented Neyt with the terracotta head in 1924 . It is one of several sculptures in the artist’s estate that were distributed to specific friends and family members according to Rodin’s instructions Auguste Neyt was a young soldier stationed in the Belgian suburb of Ixelles when Rodin first laid eyes on him in 1875 . The sculptor had been working there since 1871 , in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, often in the employ of other artists. At the age of 35 , August Rodin had yet to create a major work. A lapse in lucrative projects during an 18 -month period in 1875 – 7 6 finally allowed him to pursue a carefully-laid plan to complete a life-sized nude—his first “ grande figure .” A crucial part of the plan was the choice of model. He had come to prefer non-professional models, someone who would not be tempted to assume the standard academic poses, but for this work he also required a young, well-built man with considerable physical stamina. Deciding that a soldier would be suitable, he asked an acquaintance, an army commander, if he could look at some candidates.Years later, in conversation with the American sculptor, Truman Bartlett, Rodin recalled his first impression of Neyt: “A Flemish youth, of twenty-two years of age . . . a fine, noble-hearted boy, full of fire and valor” (Bartlett, 1889 , cited in Albert Elsen, ed., 19 6 5 , p. 31 ). Neyt himself recalled that he had been selected among a group of nine soldiers who were considered “the best- built.” The posing sessions were long and grueling, driven by Rodin’s notions of naturalism, and its requirements. Neyt remembered that: “I was at once introduced to his studio in the rue Sans-Souci in Ixelles, where I had to go through all kinds of poses every day in order to get the muscles right. Rodin did not want any exaggerated muscle, he wanted naturalness. I worked one, two, three and even four hours a day and sometimes for an hour at a stretch. ” 1 Recollections such as these have furnished historians with an unusually rich account of one sculptor’s working relationship with a specific model, on a single sculpture. Certainly, the testimonies of the artist and his model were at least partly prompted by the first and greatest trauma of Rodin’s career: the fact that his work was accused by some viewers, including members of the Salon jury, of having been cast from a mold made directly from the body, rather than having been modeled. In an effort to vindicate his himself, Rodin sent the jury a cache of evidence, including photographs that he asked Neyt to have taken of himself in the pose of The Age of Bronze . The photographer was instructed to take these shots at exactly the same angle and distance from Neyt as in his photographs of the sculpture in plaster. Rodin scholars have variously dismissed the suspicions voiced by some of Rodin’s contemporaries. As is shown most poignantly in the terracotta head, Rodin’s departures from Neyt’s facial features are easily evident. As Ruth Butler has observed, in his modeling of the head and expression of The Age of Bronze, “ Rodin emphasized a structure that was angular and bony, a face with thin lips, avoiding Neyt’s rounded chin, with its cute dimple in the middle. He decided to close the eyes and open the mouth of the figure, thus introducing an emotional note. The expression, together with the raised arms and the hesitant forward movement, present the viewer with an enigmatic image of a man opening himself up to pain.” 2 Additionally, scholars such as Leo Steinberg, Albert Elsen, and Antoinette Le Normand-Romain have discussed different ways in which Rodin’s approach to the naturalistic modeling of the nude, an approach that was partly informed by 19 th century aesthetic theory,
and partly peculiar to Rodin’s own aims, evidently defeated the expectations of some of the sculptors’ contemporaries.
A study for the head and right arm in terracotta preserved at the Musée Rodin may be compared instructively with the Bust of the Age of Bronze . The study is just under a foot high, making its head considerably smaller than that of the present work, whose existence was revealed only in recent years to Rodin scholars. Previously unpublished correspondence, reproduced here, between Rodin, Rose Beuret, (Madame Rodin), Auguste Neyt, Madame Neyt and Bénédite document the present work while adding a final, moving chapter to Rodin’s many-storied relationship with Auguste Neyt. Most of the correspondence takes place around the New Year. In 190 6, Rodin re- established contact with Neyt; in 1908 , Rose thanked Neyt’s wife for an unnamed gift, perhaps sent to reciprocate Rodin’s present of the bronze that same year. Rodin and Rose visited Neyt and his wife in Ghent in 1912 , as documented by a letter from Rodin, thanking Neyt for the invitation. It is in a brief, undated New Year’s greeting from Bénédite to Neyt, which dates from between 1917 and 1924 , that we see a specific reference to the terracotta head: the writer assures Neyt that he hasn’t forgotten “ la petite tête de l’Age d’Airain. ” In a draft of a letter from Madame Neyt to Bénédite dated 1924 , just after the New Year, the writer gratefully acknowledges not just the gift itself but what it represents to her husband. One wonders if by this time, Auguste Neyt had any sense that he would become, as he surely is for us, one of the most famous nude models in the history of sculpture. In this letter, penned by his wife, he appears not as the model for The Age of Bronze , but as the master’s élève , Rodin’s humble student: “As a great friend of Monsieur Rodin and as propagator of his ideas and works, you preserve, around the great, absent master, the good memories that he always had of his student, my husband—who no longer leaves the room, in long contemplation of the little fragment of The Age of Bronze whose ensemble is of a charming harmony .”
1. Butler, 1993 , p. 99 2. Ruth Butler, Rodin: The Shape of Genius , New Haven, 1993 , p. 102
Letter from Rodin to Neyt, January 27 , 190 6
Letter from Rodin to Neyt, January 2 , 1913
Inscribed calling card (undated) of Léonce Bénédite ( 185 6– 1925 ), first curator of the Musée Rodin, written to Neyt
Letter from Auguste Neyt to Léonce Bénédite
6. Torso of Adele (Torse d’Adèle)
Conceived c. 1878 – 82 , this cast early 1940 ’s Height 19 inches ( 47 . 9 cm) Signed lower right and stamp signed again on the interior Foundry mark: A. Rudier Fondeur Paris
provenance Musée Rodin, Paris; Collection of Robert Schasseur, Paris; Estate of Myriam Schasseur, New York; thence by descent; Private Collection. literature Judith Cladel, Rodin, sa vie glorieuse, sa vie inconnue , Paris, 193 6, p. 134 ; Georges Grappe Catalogue du Museé Rodin, vol. I. Hôtel Biron , Paris, 1927 , no. 135 ; Robert Descharnes and Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin , Lausanne, 19 6 7 , p. 80 ; John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia , Philadelphia, 197 6, pp. 241 , 24 6– 47 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, “Torses Feminins” in Pingeot [ed.], Le Corps en morceaux , excat, Paris, 1990 , pp. 14 6– 47 , 1990 ; Albert E. Elsen, Albert E. Elsen, Rodin’s Art: The Rodin Collection of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University , Stanford, 2003 , pp. 495 – 9 6; 528 , 530 (note 2 ); Le Normand-Romain, Les Bronzes de Rodin , Paris, 2007 , p. 6 81 ; (this work) Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 2010 - 32 66B. Like so many of Rodin’s figures, the Torso of Adele has a complex history, as Rodin modeled and reused the figure, with variations, in several different works. The sculpture was first identified by Judith Cladel as an early study for mythological figures to decorate the Villa Neptune in Nice, completed in 1878 . Yet the stone figures in Nice are male, and there is no documentation to support Cladel’s assertion. Recent scholarship places the work formally and thematically in the orbit of sculptures such as Meditation or Crouching Woman , female figures and figure fragments that curve, twist, and turn in upon themselves to great formal and expressive effect, and which date from just after 1880 . The finished figure of Adele appears as the female half of one of Rodin’s most popular compositions, Eternal Springtime , which is usually dated 1884 . Here the figure is set on her knees, and given a head, legs, upraised right arm, and a male partner. At an uncertain date, Rodin placed this version of Adele in the far left corner of the tympanum of The Gates of Hell ( 1880 – 84 ). In 1895 , the figure appears again, lying on a rock, in Fallen Angel (sometimes known as Illusions Received By The Earth) . A pair of wings have now been added, and the figure’s companion is a crouching, female figure who had also appeared on the Gates . With its arched back and writhing forms, the Torso of Adele is one of Rodin’s most evocative representations of female sexuality. Interestingly, a plaster cast of the Torso of Adele from Meudon indicates that Rodin had broken the figure at the waist, so that he could pivot either
the upper or lower half of the body to emphasize the twist even further. The Musée Rodin owns ten versions of the Torso of Adele in plaster, attesting to sculptor’s fascination with this figure fragment both as a finished work in its own right, and as a point of departure for new compositions and groupings. Adele Abruzzesi was one of two sisters who modeled frequently for Rodin. It was unusual for Rodin to title a figure after one of his models, but this was the title under which he exhibited a plaster version in Brussels and the Netherlands in 1899 . According to the Musée Rodin, it was shortly after the 1899 exhibition that Rodin considered casting the Torso of Adele in bronze. The first bronze was not made until 1928 , however, under the direction of the museum.
Current scholarship indicates that only one other cast of this version of Adele is known and it is in the collection of the Musée Rodin.
7. Mask of Madame Rodin (Rose Beuret) (Masque de Rose Beuret)
Conceived ca. 1882 ; this sand cast executed in March–April 1917 by Alexis Rudier with Patinated black and blue undertones and accents by Jean Limet Height (including base) 10 5 ⁄ 8 inches ( 27 cm) Signed on the neck lower right Foundry mark in the back: A. RUDIER F. EUR PARIS provenance Cast ordered by Rose Beuret Rodin; given by Madame Rodin to Rodin’s second cousin, Henri Cheffer, March, 1917 ; thence by descent; by private sale to Private Collection. selected literature Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Museé Rodin, vol. I. Hôtel Biron , Paris, 1927 , p. 6 5 , no. 1 6 0 ; Grappe, Paris, 1944 , p. 8 6; Ionel Jianou and Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 19 6 9 , p. 103 ; John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia , Philadelphia, 197 6, pp. 480 , 482 , 48 6, no. 80 – 1 ; Albert E. Elsen, In Rodin’s Studio , Ithaca, 1980 , p. 1 6 4 ; Joan Vita Miller and Gary Marotta, Rodin: The B. Gerald Cantor Collection., excat New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 198 6, p. 103 ; Nicole Barbier, Marbres de Rodin: Collection du musée , Paris, 1987 , p. 3 6; Alain Beausire, Quand Rodin exposait , Paris, 1988 , pp. 57 –6 0 ; Ruth Butler, Rodin: The Shape of Genius , New Haven, 1993 , pp. 4 66, 5 6 9 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain et. al., Rodin en 1900. L’exposition de l’Alma, excat, Paris: Musée de Luxembourg, 2001 , p. 82 ; Albert E. Elsen, Rodin’s Art: The Rodin Collection of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University , Stanford, 2003 , pp. 452 – 455 , no. 132 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le bronze , Paris, 2007 , vol. II, p. 20 6; Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre scultpé d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 200 6- 904 B. This sculpture is the last of Rodin’s portraits of Rose Beuret ( 1844 – 1917 ), the seamstress from Champagne who met Rodin in 18 6 4 and became his model, mistress, and, in 18 66, the mother of his child (whose paternity Rodin did not legally declare). She devoted her life to the sculptor and was his lifelong companion, the custodian of his studio, and mistress of the estate at Meudon. Rodin married Rose just days before her death, on 19 January, 1917 . Rodin modeled Rose’s features in four works. Both Mignon (c. 18 6 7 –6 8 ) and Bellona ( 1877 ) emphasize the sitter’s dynamic expression and strong temperament. The present work and the similar Alsatian Woman , probably executed slightly earlier, depict Rose as a mature woman with eyes closed and a pensive, inward expression. The present work was apparently Rodin’s favorite among the four portrayals. He exhibited it frequently, often with the title Madame Rodin , beginning with the plaster, which was installed on top of a tall column, itself mounted on a base, at the Rodin retrospective at the Pavillon de l’Alma, Paris, in 1900 . From 1904 , Rodin sent the bronze to a number of important international exhibitions, including the Exhibition of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf, Weimar, and Leipzig ( 1904 ).
The disarming realism of the modeling here too once prompted some observers to speculate that the sculpture had been cast from life. 1 Recent scholars have refuted this view. It makes little sense that Rodin would expose himself yet again to the kind of professional and personal trauma that he had endured in the late 1870 s, after some critics asserted that his ambitious exhibit for the 1877 Salon, The Age of Bronze , had been cast from life. According to documents at the Musée Rodin, the present work is one of six bronze casts that were made in 1917 at the Alexis Rudier foundry, at Rose’s request; some or all of the six were offered to family members. Rose gave this example to a second cousin of Rodin’s, Henry Cheffer ( 1880 – 1957 ), a printmaker of reknown. The Musée Rodin owns three plasters, which were foundry models. The first bronze seems to have been cast in 1903 . Some 23 bronzes are known to have been cast, at different foundries, during Rodin’s lifetime, and there are a number of posthumously cast bronzes as well. In 1898 , Antoine Bourdelle, then a stone cutter working for Rodin, carved a marble version, now in the Musée Rodin. In around 1911 , Rodin commissioned an edition in glass paste, a medium he used only for female portraits, such as those of his protégée and mistress, Camille Claudel, and the Japanese dancer Hanako.
1. Alain Beausire, Quand Rodin exposait , Paris, 1988 , p. 88 .
8. Jacques-Ernest Bulloz (French, 1858–1942 )
Masque de Madame Rodin
1880 – 82 Carbon print 13 ½ x 9 ½ inches ( 34 . 3 x 24 . 1 cm) Signed by Rodin lower center
9. Study of Seven Figures for La Ronde (Etude de sept figures pour “La Ronde”) c. 1880 – 83 Pencil with touches of brown wash on buff paper; Touches of pen and brown ink on one figure 3 x 3 ½ inches ( 7 .6 x 8 . 9 cm)
provenance Estate of Jane Wade and Lee Lombard; sale, Christie’s New York, February 27 , 2003 ; New York Art Market; Private Collection. exhibitions Kansas City, Nelson Atkins Museum, The Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Rosenberg, 1957 ; New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Rodin , May–September 19 6 3 , no. 6 3450 literature A. Elsen , Rodin , New York, 19 6 2 , p. 157 , illus; A.Elsen, Rodin’s La Ronde , Burlington Magazine, CVII, June 19 6 5 , p. 295 , illus. This drawing is a preparatory study for the dry-point of 1883 – 4 . Other preparatory studies published by Albert Elsen are known, although the number of principal figures varies. For example, d427 only consists of three figures; d5 6 21 three as well, but accompanied by a violinist; in d1944 , there are only four; in d1937 five; in d1951 there are six. In our drawing , there are seven figures, as in a drawing in the collection of Roger Marx, which is the closest to the final print. We can conjecture that Rodin has added figures progressively in his successive studies for La Ronde . We know that the dry-point dates from 1883 (according to Roger-Marx and Delteil) or from 1884 (in a note from Rodin to Bourcard). 1 However, Rodin’s typical method of drawing includes reworking and reimagining of the subject and it is difficult to establish an exact order of execution. These drawings illustrate a passage of Canto XVI of Dante’s Inferno, where in the Seventh Circle, the “ violents contre nature ” are condemned to walk endlessly on the sand under a rain of fire. The circle is formed by Florentine athletes and leaders in battle, who are advancing in one line while turning their head in another in order to be able to address Dante. Matisse undoubtedly knew the drypoint La Ronde and used it in his own research on the subject of the dance , which culminated in the famous monumental paintings now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Danse I , 1909 ) and at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg ( Danse 1910 ). Several years beforehand, in his painting La joie de vivre ( 1905 –6, Collection Barnes Foundation) Matisse clearly cites La Ronde , as well as numerous other works by Rodin.
1 . Letter from Bourcard to Rodin, March 25 , 1903 , Archives Staatliche Museum of Berlin. See J. Vilain, “ Rodin graveur à la pointe séche, ” La sculpture au XIXe siecle, mélange pour Anne Pingeot, Paris, Nicolas Chaudun, 2008
10. Hand no. 20, Small Model (Main no. 20, petit modèle)
Conceived c. 1890 – 1908 , cast in 19 66 Bronze with dark green patina Height 2 inches ( 5 . 1 cm) Signed inside wrist; Foundry mark outside wrist: G. RUDIER/FOND.PARIS
provenance Musée Rodin, Paris; Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris (acquired from the above in December 19 66); M. Blum, US (a gift from the above); thence by descent; Private Collection. literature Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’Oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 2007 V 10 6 8 B. Created mostly in the 1880 s and 1890 s, Rodin’s earliest studies of hands came about while the sculptor was working on the monumental, multi-figured Gates of Hell , although Rodin certainly thought of many of the hands as significant works in their own right. Foundry bills and receipts indicate that Rodin had a number of these works cast in bronze during his lifetime. It is difficult to identify most of these, except for the intensely expressive Clenched Hand of c. 1885 . Rodin exhibited a Small Clenched Right Hand internationally in 189 6, 1900 , and 1902 , and at least six casts of a large version of the Clenched Hand were produced during Rodin’s lifetime. In his later years, moreover, Rodin combined hand fragments on their own and with other figures to create striking assemblages, such The Hand of God (conceived c. 189 6), Large Clenched Hand with Figure (conceived 1907 ), and The Cathedral (conceived 1908 ). Rodin made gifts of plasters of hands to collectors, students, and museums. Indeed, a plaster cast of Hand no. 32 , now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was presented by Rodin to the Museum in 1912 . Another plaster example, now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, was acquired from Rodin in 1907 or 1908 by an American collector, probably as a gift from the artist. In 192 6, the Chairman of the Musée Rodin’s Board of Directors proposed that bronze editions of reduced versions of Rodin’s hands be cast, not only as a source of income, but also to be used by the museum as gifts. Most of these editions were made after the Second World War, between 1948 and 1977 .
11. Hand no. 32, Small Model ( Main no. 32, petit modèle)
Conceived c. 1880 – 85 , cast in 1959 Bronze with brown patina Height 3 inches ( 7 .6 cm) Signed inside wrist
provenance Musée Rodin; Madame Jean Schlumberger (purchased December, 1959 ); thence by descent; Private Collection. literature Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’Oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 2008 - 1884 B.
The present example is one of an edition of 12 bronzes produced between 1958 and 19 6 4 at the Georges Rudier foundry under the direction of the Musée Rodin.
12. Mother and Child (Mère et enfant)
1881 – 1903 Graphite, pen, brown ink, ink wash drawing, heightened with gouache on wove paper 3 7 ⁄ 8 x 2 ¾ inches ( 9 . 8 x 7 cm) Dedicated by Rodin on the original support: To my friend, Henley provenance Collection William Ernest Henley ( 1849 – 1903 ); sale, Bonhams, London, April 13 , 200 6; Private Collection. literature C. Lampert, dir. A. Le Normand-Romain, excat, Rodin, London, Royal Academy, 200 6, no. 59 , p. 219 , repr. This drawing is one of several portrayals of mothers and children executed by Rodin in the 1880 ’s which make use of contrasting shadow and light to give the effect of a sculptural relief, and which have its equivalent in the very fine sepia patina of certain bronzes. Maternal figures done in the 1870 ’s were happy; those from the 1880 ’s were distressed and in pain. They are conceived in the somber atmosphere of the readings of Dante and during Rodin’s work on The Gates of Hell. Many drawings of this period stylistically resemble these works depicting maternal figures: such as Ugolin (Paris, Rodin Museum, d9393 ), Niobé (Paris, Rodin Museum, d3783 ), and others. Interestingly, these drawings of female figures frequently have in the background a lightly sketched little boat traced on the horizon. It appears here on the right, even though the connection in Rodin’s mind between a mother and her child and this marine landscape remains a mystery. Catherine Lampert has interpreted this addition as the boat of Charon. Could this be a poetic reference comparing the mother who carries a child into life and Charon carrying the soul of damned people to their last resting place, in both cases thus signifiying a passing? Rodin’s small boats are typically quiet sailboats floating in the distant background, not the sinister boat of Charon. Rodin dedicated the Mother and Child drawing to William Ernest Henley ( 1849 – 1903 ), an Englishman of Scottish origin, who was a well-known and important poet and literary critic of the Victorian period. A close friend of Meredith and Robert-Louis Stevenson with whom he wrote several theater plays, Henley had his leg amputated at the age of 12 , and became the inspiration for the character of the wooden legged pirate Long John Silver in Treasure Island. Between 1881 and 188 6, as editor in chief of Magazine of Art , Henley was one of the first to promote Rodin in Great Britain. In 188 6, Rodin made a bust of Henley and the bronze version is now in a memorial inaugurated in 1907 in the crypt at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The admiration of the poet for the sculptor definitively established their friendship. In 1903 , Rodin offered a dedicated plaster of the Métamorphoses d’Ovide ( Ovid’s Metamorphosis ) to Henley. We don’t know when Rodin gave him this drawing, but we can conjecture that it was to commemorate Margaret Emma, Henley’s daughter who died at the age of 5 in 1894 . She was the model for the character of Wendy Darling in the J. M. Barrie play Peter Pan or The Boy Who Never Grew Up ( 1904 ) and its novel Peter and Wendy published in 1911 .
13. Small Shade from the Gates of Hell ( Petite Ombre de la Porte de l’Enfer ; also known as Small Shade no. 1)
Conceived 1885 , cast between 190 6 and 1911 Sand-cast bronze with black patina, nuances of green and blue 12 3 ⁄ 8 x 3 ¾ in. ( 31 . 4 x 9 .6 cm) Signed on right side of rock
provenance Georges Renand, Paris (by 1930 ); thence by descent; acquired by present owner Sotheby’s Paris, December 13 , 2007 ; Private Collection. literature Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Museé Rodin, vol. I. Hôtel Biron , Paris, 1927 , no. 121 ; Ionel Jianou and Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin , Paris, 19 6 7 , p. 90 ; John Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia , Philadelphia, pp. 130 – 32 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le Bronze , Paris, 2007 , vol. II, p. 574 ; Jérôme Le Blay , Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre scuolpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation), Paris, no. 2007 V 1550 B. In 1880 , Rodin received the commission for The Gates of Hell , a monumental project which, though it remained unfinished, would ultimately transform Rodin’s approach to the figure. The portals were for a new Museum of Decorative Arts that was to be erected on the site of the former Cour de Comptes, destroyed in the Commune in 1871 . The doors would be based on a bas-relief representing Dante’s Divine Comedy . While literary matter was new to Rodin, he chose the subject and was especially eager to take it on, as if offered him the opportunity to model small figures—and thus to refute the charges leveled at The Age of Bronze . “I had no idea,” he later said, “of interpreting Dante, though I was glad to accept the Inferno as a starting point, because I wished to do something in small, nude figures . . . to prove completely that I could model from life as well as other sculptors, I determined to make the sculpture of figures smaller than life.” 1 It is indeed fascinating that Rodin’s approach to this physically monumental project, which also represented artistic ambition on an immense scale, was to envision a great assemblage of many small figures, and that it was precisely the small size of the figures that inspired him. Rodin would continue to work on the Gates until around 1900 , though the project remained unfinished at his death. It is known to us through photographs of lifetime models in plaster and posthumous bronze casts, but mostly through the individual figures from the Gates . It is in the conception and modeling of these small figures that the Gates constitutes a critical turning point in Rodin’s oeuvre. The figures quickly took on a life of their own, apart from the portals, not only in exhibitions during Rodin’s lifetime, but during the process of creating and refining them. As Tancock has discussed at length, the technical requirements of the portals, including the necessity of
working in sections, prompted Rodin to devise a highly experimental practice for conceiving both individual figures and figural groups that would continue to impact his approach to the figure for the rest of his career. As he completed each group, he would cut it off and cast it in plaster. Thus Rodin was able to constantly create new compositions, or alter the expressive and formal content and meaning of an existing composition, by juxtaposing existing figures in different ways, by making slight variations in existing figures and groupings, or both. “An experimental or chance juxtaposition with another group, the exchange of elements from one group to another, a different orientation, were just some of the ways in which Rodin attempted to realize the diverse possibilities embodied in his sculptures. 2 Rodin placed this small, yet powerfully Michelangelesque figure in the upper left section of The Gates of Hell . At least 23 examples of the Small Shade are known to exist. The present work is one of thirteen examples that were made during Rodin’s lifetime at the Alexis Rudier foundry between 190 6 and 1911 . Between 1931 and 1949 , the Musée Rodin supervised an edition of three examples at the Alexis Rudier foundry and, between 1958 and 19 66, examples at the Georges Rudier foundry. A terracotta example is at the Musée Rodin. Other bronzes are housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.
This example was previously owned by Georges Renand, a businessman who assembled an outstanding collection of modern paintings and sculpture between the first two world wars.
1. John Tancock , The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum , Philadelphia , 197 6, p. 92 2. Tancock, op.cit., p. 94
14. Young Mother in the Grotto ( Jeune Mère à la Grotte )
Conceived c. 1885 , this cast between 1888 and 189 6 Bronze Height 14 7 ⁄ 8 inches ( 37 . 8 cm) Signed Foundry: Griffoul/Lorge
provenance Possibly Albéric Magnard, Paris ( 18 6 5 – 1914 );thence by descent; Stephen Higgins, Paris; T. Rogers & Co., London (acquired from the above in 19 6 9 ); sale, Sotheby’s London, July 2 , 19 6 9 , lot 39 ; B. Gerald Cantor, Beverly Hills (in 1974 ); M. Gerald Demain, Florida (given as a gift from the above in 1974 ); sale, Christie’s New York, May 5 , 2004 , lot 205 ; Private Collection. literature John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia , Philadelphia, 197 6, no. 17 ; Ruth Butler, et. al., European Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century: The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue , Washington, D.C. and New York, 2001 , pp. 351 – 54 ; Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le bronze , Vo. II, Paris, 2007 , pp. 4 6 9 – 71 . (this work) Jérôme Le Blay, Catalogue critique de l’oeuvre sculpté d’Auguste Rodin (in preparation) Paris, no. 2004 - 527 B. Young Mother in the Grotto is the first of three small sculptural groups conceived in the 1880 s on the subject of maternal love between a young woman and an infant. The first two, Young Mother in the Grotto and Young Mother are identical, except that Young Mother is a freestanding group, whereas Young Mother in the Grotto shows the figures emerging in high relief from an embracing, cave-like “ground”. In the third work, Fleeting Love , wings are added to the child, who no longer sits on the woman’s knees, but instead lies across her lap. As discussed in the recent catalogue of bronzes at the Musée Rodin, Young Mother in the Grotto is the first of these three to receive public mention. Rodin showed the work, under the title Woman and Love , at an exhibition held at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in February–March 188 6. It was extremely well-received called “lively” “charming” and “exquisite” by critics, and continued to be a tremendously successful group. As early as February 6, 188 6, a model for Young Mother in the Grotto was among several sculptures for which Rodin received an initial payment from the collector Maurice Fenaille. The marble that was eventually carved for Fenaille was completed and paid for in 1889 . A photograph by William Elborne from 1887 shows that Rodin had placed Young Mother in the Grotto at the top of the left pilaster of The Gates of Hell . He removed the group from the gates, however, probably around 1888 , and replaced it with Fallen Caryatid with Stone . As noted in the Musée Rodin catalogue, Young Mother in the Grotto ’s “image of tranquil happiness
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