August Rodin (1840-1917) Mother and Child 10 x 7 cm. (3 7/8 x 2 3/4) (image size)

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Lot 1
August Rodin
(1840-1917)
Mother and Child 10 x 7 cm. (3 7/8 x 2 3/4) (image size)

Sold for £ 18,600 (US$ 25,678) inc. premium
August Rodin (1840-1917)
Mother and Child
signed Rodin and inscribed a mon ami E. Henley (on mount)
pen and ink with white heightening
10 x 7 cm. (3 7/8 x 2 3/4) (image size)

Footnotes

  • We are grateful to the Musée Rodin for confirming the authenticity of this work from a photograph.

    The present drawing by Auguste Rodin adopts the style of the artist’s so-called ‘black drawings’, executed in the beginning of the 1880s, during his work on La Porte de l’Enfer. During these years of intense creation, Rodin often turned to the pen and paper to lay down his preliminary thoughts on designs for sculptures. However, he also reverted to drawing for subjects unrelated to any finished or on-going sculpture, and the ‘Mother and Child’ belongs to this category of works. As with many of the ‘black drawings’ from this period, Rodin worked from pen and black ink over lead pencil markings; he then used coloured washes (black , brown or sepia essentially) and white gouache to accentuate light and volume in a most painterly manner. The present drawing reveals indeed the artist’s intention of uniting the two figures of the Mother and the Child by a bold use of light and dark, building up a scale of ‘chiaro-’ and ‘-scuro’ planes. The effect is certainly painterly and shows off the sculptor’s ability to transcribe the three-dimensional figure into a two-dimensional dialogue of silent feelings between a mother and her child.

    From other Mother and Child drawings known today, many of them are often laid down on card or another sheet. The present work makes no exception and may be compared with, for example, nos.2058, 5588 and 6899 of Claudie Judrin’s Inventaire des dessins – Musée Rodin (Paris, 1984-1991, volume IV).
    The present drawing bears a dedication from the artist to ‘mon ami Henley’ who was the prolific poet, critic and editor (William) Ernest Henley (1849-1903). The two men had met in London in 1881, a year before Henley became editor of The Magazine of Art (1884-1886). Following Henley’s death in 1903, Rodin sculpted a bust of his friend which, in 1907, was set as a memorial piece in Saint-Paul’s Cathedral, London. The National Portrait Gallery in London conserves on display a bronze Bust of Ernest Henley (NPG1697).
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