Masque de femme au nez retroussé, petit modèle - variante sur colonne circulaire signed 'A. Rodin' (on the right side of the neck) bronze with brown patina 8 15/16in. (22.5cm) (height) Conceived circa 1885-1890, this version in bronze cast between 1890 and 1900, possibly by the Griffoul & Lorge foundry
PROVENANCE Mrs Julian B. Herrmann, New York. By descent from the above to the present owner.
LITERATURE R. Marx, 'Auguste Rodin', Pan, III [April 1897], p. 196. O. Grautoff, Auguste Rodin, Bielefeld and Leipzig,1908, p. 26. G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927 [and subsequent editions], no. 103 (another cast illustrated). John L. Tanlock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 610, illustrated on p. 611, fig. 111-117-1 (another cast illustrated). J. de Caso and P.B. Sanders, Rodin's Sculpture: A critical study of the Spreckels Collection, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1977, no. 33, pp. 190-193 (another cast illustrated). A. Beausire, Quand Rodin exposait, Paris, 1988, p. 181 (another cast illustrated). A. Le Normand-Romain (ed.), La sculpture dans l'espace. Rodin, Brancusi, Giacometti, exh. cat., Paris, Musée Rodin, 2005, pp. 65-66 (another cast illustrated). A. Le Normand-Romain et al.., The Bronzes of Rodin, catalogue of the works in the Musée Rodin, II, Paris, 2007, pp. 670-672 (another cast 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 2013-4212B.
While this mask may have been conceived at about the same time as the heads of the Damned Women for the upper part of La Porte de l'Enfer (from 1880), which it superficially resembles, it bears a serene and beguiling expression entirely at odds with a large commission. Although only a mask, the model seems to be complete and self-contained, belying its small size. Its individuality would suggest that it is a portrait, although no certain sitter has been identified: it has been known alternately as Madame Delvolvé-Carrière, Yvette Guilbert, and Minna Schrader de Nyzot.
Rodin was always ready to see his sculptures in new and unexpected ways, and thus this model was cast in a number of versions and on different bases. The integral cylindrical bronze base is a particularly successful innovation found on a small number of lifetime casts, adding an apparent weightlessness. The asymmetrically-cut neck of the present version tips the head back slightly, and as Antoinette Le Normand-Romain suggests, produces 'an even more striking impression: the eyes seem to implore the spectator. It is no longer a somewhat static meeting of gazes, ... but rather a face that looks at the spectator while seeming to stare at a point in the sky.' (A. Le Normand-Romain, op. cit., p. 671).
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