AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Éternel Printemps, 2ème état, 4ème réduction dite aussi 'no 2' 9 3/4in. (24.6cm) (height) Conceived in 1884 (and in this reduced size in 1898), this bronze version cast between 1910 and 1915
Lot 13
Éternel Printemps, 2ème état, 4ème réduction dite aussi 'no 2' 9 3/4in. (24.6cm) (height) Conceived in 1884 (and in this reduced size in 1898), this bronze version cast between 1910 and 1915
Sold for US$ 179,000 inc. premium

Impressionist and Modern Art

5 Nov 2013, 13:00 EST

New York

Lot Details
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
Éternel Printemps, 2ème état, 4ème réduction dite aussi 'no 2'
signed 'Rodin' (on the right side of the base), stamped with foundry mark 'F. BARBEDIENNE. Fondeur.' (on the left side of the base), and with workshop assistant stamps 'VL' (twice) and ink inscription 'OX [crossed out] HX' (to the interior)
bronze with dark green-brown patina
9 3/4in. (24.6cm) (height)
Conceived in 1884 (and in this reduced size in 1898), this bronze version cast between 1910 and 1915


    Private collection, Atlanta.

    G. Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, p. 141, no. 56 (another cast illustrated).
    R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, p. 135 (another cast illustrated, p. 134).
    I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 96.
    J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 241-247, no. 32b, (another cast illustrated).
    A.E. Elsen, Rodin Rediscovered, Washington D.C., 1981, p. 68 (another cast illustrated, fig. 3.13).
    D. Finn and M. Busco, Rodin and His Contemporaries: The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection, New York, 1991, p. 227 (another cast illustrated).
    A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, p. 494-497, no. 148 (another cast illustrated, p. 494-496).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le bronze, Catalogue des oeuvres conservées au Musée Rodin, I, Paris, 2007, no. S. 777, p. 334 (other casts illustrated).

    This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue critique de l'Oeuvre Sculpté d'Auguste Rodin currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay, under the archive number 2013-4213B.

    As Antoinette Le Norman-Romain has noted, 'no one could make bodies "speak" better than Rodin, yet his message was often tragic and even groups radiating passion like The Kiss seldom expressed a true joy of living' (A. Le Norman-Romain, op. cit., p. 335). L'Éternel Printemps thus stands apart in his oeuvre as a gloriously lyrical, joyful expression of the connection between the two figures. Indeed the dating of 1884 for the model is significant since it coincides with the kindling of Rodin's own passion for his lover Camille Claudel, who had come to his studio as a pupil in the previous year. The French government stipend paid to the studio in this period allowed Rodin to hire as many models as he wanted, and he encouraged them to adopt their own poses. By 1884 he was at the height of his powers, and the two young models enabled him to arrange a languid composition on an elegant yet remarkably complex X-shaped construction. It was to become one of his most successful and influential works, inspiring among others Jacques Duchamp-Villon's cubist bas relief Les amants of 1913.

    The composition may have been intended for the convoluted construction of La Porte de l'Enfer [The Gates of Hell] commissioned by the French State for the proposed Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1880. While the essentially tragic nature of The Kiss was fitted for the subject, the joyous and very sensual embrace of the lovers in L'Éternel Printemps jarred with the serious intent of commission, and Rodin decided to exclude it from the composition. However he remained very attached to the model, which he later confided to Jeanne Russell-Jouve had first come to him while listening to Beethoven's Second Symphony, and indeed it was to become one of his greatest commercial successes.

    L'Éternel Printemps began life as a sculpture independent of La Porte de l'Enfer as early as 1886, when he gave a plaster of the model to the writer Robert Lewis Stephenson. Stephenson was a great admirer of the sculptor, and when Rodin was accused by the painter Edward Armitage RA of being 'too realistic and too brutal even for French stomachs' had written in his defense in a letter to The Times on 6 September 1886: 'M. Rodin's work is real in the sense that it is studied from the life, and itself lives, ... I was one of a party of artists that visited his studio the other day, and after having seen his later work, the 'Dante', the 'Paolo and Francesca' [Le Baiser], the 'Printemps qui passe' [L'Éternel Printemps], we came forth again into the streets of Paris, silenced, gratified, humbled in the thought of our own efforts, yet with a fine sense that the age was not utterly decadent, and that there were yet worthy possibilities in art. ... The public are weary of statues that say nothing. Well, here is a man coming forward whose statues live and speak, and speak things worth uttering.' (The Times archive, accessed 22 September 2013).

    As with many of his sculptures, including the near-contemporary model that became Le Baiser, Rodin was hesitant about settling on titles, preferring the forms to speak for themselves and indeed to represent archetypes rather than be pinned down to specific subjects. Judith Cladel recalled that her father the poet Léon Cladel had read aloud to Rodin from Victor Hugo's Chansons des Rues et des Bois and Feuilles d'Automne, to help him find a title, but the sculptor had evaded the question (A. Le Norman-Romain, op. cit., p. 335). Contemporary critics, and indeed the French public, were shocked by such a naturalistic expression of the human form without the mediation of a chastely mythological title, and the model was exhibited as Zéphyr et la terre and Cupidon et Psyché before it was finally settled as L'Éternel Printemps at exhibition in 1900.

    Rodin signed a contract with the Leblanc-Barbidienne foundry on 6 July 1898, granting them the right to cast editions of Le Baiser [The Kiss] and L'Éternel Printemps for ten years, renewable on expiration (the plaster was returned to the Musée Rodin in 1918 at the sculptor's death and the expiration of the second contract). L'Éternel Printemps was initially cast in three sizes, of 64 cm., 40 cm. and 25 cm., with a further edition of 52 cm. being cast in 1900. Records suggest that between 63 and 69 examples of the 25 cm. edition were cast. The foundry marks on the present work, together with the quality of the interior and exterior casting and finishing, suggest a date of circa 1910-1915, during Rodin's lifetime.
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