AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats' 29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height) (Conceived in 1883 and cast between 1925 and 1935)

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Lot 30
Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats' 29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height)

Sold for US$ 1,061,000 inc. premium
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats'
signed 'A. Rodin' (on the top of the base, back right) and inscribed with the foundry mark 'Alexis. Rudier./ Fondeur. Paris.' (on the back right of the left); and with the raised signature 'A. Rodin' on the interior
bronze with rich dark brown patina
29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height)
Conceived in 1883 and cast between 1925 and 1935


  • This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Critique de l'oeuvre sculpté d'Auguste Rodin currently being prepared by Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay, under the archive number 2015-4598B.

    Galerie Lorenceau, Paris.
    Samuel Josefowitz (acquired from the above in May 1964); Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 4 April 1968, lot 125.
    Barnett Shine (acquired at the above sale).
    Francis Coles, New York (by descent from the above)

    Nancy, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Hommage à Roger Marx, 1963, no. 103.

    C. Mauclair, Auguste Rodin, The Man - His Ideas - His Works, London, 1905 (another version illustrated p. 12).
    J. Cladel, Auguste Rodin, L'œuvre et l'homme, Brussels, 1908, p. 161 (a marble version illustrated p. 31).
    'Le Musée Rodin', in L'Illustration, no. 3706, 7 March 1914 (a bronze version illustrated).
    L. Bénédite, Rodin, London, 1924, p. 26-27 (another version illustrated pl. XVI).
    L. Bénédite, Rodin, London, 1926 (a marble version illustrated pl. 9).
    G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, p. 35-36, no. 39 (a marble version illustrated p. 35).
    J. Cladel, Auguste Rodin, Sa vie glorieuse, sa vie inconnue, Paris, 1936, p. 142-143.
    G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, p. 28, no. 59 (another version illustrated).
    G. Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1947, p. 141, no. 44 (another version illustrated).
    P.L. Grigau, 'Rodin's Eve', in Bulletin of the Detroit Institute, 1953-1954, p. 14-16 (another version illustrated).
    L. Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1964, no. 22 (another version illustrated).
    B. Champigneulle, Rodin, London, 1967, p. 279, no. 23 (another version illustrated pl. 71).
    R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 160.
    I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 90 (a plaster version illustrated pl. 17).
    A.E. Elsen, Rodin, London, 1974, pp. 49, 151, 192 and 208 (another version illustrated p. 51).
    J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 148-157, no. 8 (other versions illustrated pp. 151 and 154, fig. 8-5).
    J. de Caso and P.B. Sanders, Rodin's Sculpture, A Critical Study of the Spreckels Collection, San Francisco, 1977, p. 143-147, no. 21 (a plaster version illustrated pp. 142 and 145).
    H.H. Arnason, A History of Modern Art, London, 1977, p. 68, no. 87 (another version illustrated).
    Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 29 December 1979 (a marble version illustrated).
    M. Hanotelle, Paris/Bruxelles, Rodin et Meunier, Paris, 1982, pp. 59 and 202 (another version illustrated p. 57).
    N. Barbier, Marbres de Rodin: Collection du Musée, Paris, 1987, p. 198, no. 85 (a marble version illustrated p. 199).
    A. Beausire, Quand Rodin exposait, Dijon, 1988, pp. 82, 95 and 315 (a terracotta version illustrated p. 84).
    D. Finn and M. Busco, Rodin and His Contemporaries: The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collection, New York, 1991, p. 42 (other versions illustrated p. 43-47 and on the cover).
    R. Butler, Rodin, The Shape of Genius, New Haven and London, 1993, p. 188.
    I. Ross and A. Snow, eds., Rodin, A Magnificent Obsession, London, 2001, pp. 121 and 176 (another version illustrated pl. 111).
    R. Masson and V. Mattiussi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, p. 38 (another version illustrated in color p. 39).
    R.M. Rilke (trans. J. Lemont and H. Trausil), Auguste Rodin, London, 2006, pp. 44-46 (a marble version illustrated p. 45).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le bronze: Catalogue des oeuvres conservées au Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, pp. 338-347 (other versions illustrated p. 346, fig. 7 and pp. 338-343 and 345-347).

    "One might think that Rodin had attempted once again the act of Divine Creation, and had made a model in the image of his wild and impassioned spirit. His art comes from nature and in everything seems prodigious since his exaltation of the form and the idea ennoble and transform reality." (the critic Claude Roger-Marx, quoted in the catalogue to the 1963 exhibition in which the present work was shown).

    Eve is one of a small group of independent masterpieces, including Le Baiser (The Kiss) and Le Penseur (The Thinker) that emerged from the astonishing period of creativity connected to the project for La Porte d'Enfer (The Gates of Hell), begun in 1880 and elaborated for the remainder of Rodin's career.

    The commission which led to The Gates of Hell was intended by the French state as a grand portal for a proposed Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. In his astonishing complex and constantly evolving conception Rodin turned to Dante as a guide to his exploration of the Human Condition. In the figure of Eve the sculptor found the perfect image to represent, simultaneously, divine grace and human frailty, the persistence of hope and remorselessness of destiny, implacable fate and the triumph of the spirit. It is this recognition of universal truths in individual experience that marks Rodin as a pioneer of Modern sculpture.

    Rodin's Eve appears at the moment of the expulsion from Paradise. She is at once the first woman, sinless and divinely-created and the mother of an imperfect humanity. Temptress and outcast, she has been banished from Eden but steps into her destiny as first mother of the human race. The slack muscled realism of the figure brings a humanity and a narrative power to the very traditional iconography. Eve wraps her arms around herself in a protective embrace, one hand raised to ward off God's wrath. The twist of her legs sets up a spiral through her torso which tightens into the knot of arms above her tensed shoulders to protect her bowed head. The shift in axis at a point between her navel and sternum sets her hips and shoulders on different planes, coiling her posture into a tight arabesque, giving it a dynamic but introspective tension. In this the pose it is a counterpoint to that of Pierre de Wiessant from the Burghers of Calais (1887-1895), which reverses the spiral to give a balletic and expansive outward gesture, centrifugal where Eve is centripetal. It is notable that when Rodin came to arrange the entrance for the 1900 exhibition at the Pavillon de l'Alma he first thought to use Eve as representative of his previous twenty years of exploration, but eventually settled on Pierre de Wiessant.

    The poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who was briefly Rodin's secretary, elaborated on Eve's pose: 'The gesture of the standing figure develops further. It withdraws into itself, it shrivels like burning paper, it becomes stronger, more concentrated, more animated. That Eve, that was originally to be placed over the Gates of Hell, stands with head sunk deeply into the shadow of the arms that draw together over the breast like those of a freezing woman. The back is rounded, the nape of the neck almost horizontal. She bends forward as though listening over her own body in which a new future begins to stir. And it is as though the gravity of this future weighed upon the senses of the woman and drew her down from the freedom of life into the deep, humble service of motherhood.' (R.M. Rilke (trans. J. Lemont and H. Trausil), Auguste Rodin, London, 2006, pp. 44-46).

    In considering the figure Eve, Rodin looked back to a tradition that stretches at least to the classical Venus Pudica type. The pose owes a debt to Masaccio's Expulsion in the Brancacci Chapel, but most closely to Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling. Perhaps significantly Rodin takes both the cowering pose of Michelangelo's Eve and the raised arms of his Adam, emphasizing the universality of the figure. The handling of the musculature of the back recalls Michelangelo's own sculpture, although Kenneth Clark, who owned a cast of the present work, saw earlier parallels: 'Every inch of the skin is alive, and certain areas, such as the shoulders, have the energy which only Donatello could be said to have equaled' (K. Clark, The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic versus Classic art, London, 1974, p. 349). Rodin's exploration of the Modern sensibility in his Eve, both in its simultaneity and its expressive distortion had far reaching effects. Henri Matisse's first steps in sculpture, shown in his bronze figures of Madeleine, exhibit a similar focus on individual truths at the expense of general form. Constantin Brancusi, who expended much energy in denying that he had ever been Rodin's assistant at Meudon, made no secret that it was Rodin's foregrounding of the human figure that opened the door to twentieth century sculpture. Echoes of the Eve can certainly be seen in Brancusi's Mademoiselle Pogany I. He declared 'Thanks to Rodin [Man] once again became the measure, the module on which the sculpture again became human in scale and the significance of its content. The influence of Rodin was and is immense.' (quoted in S. Geist, 'Rodin/Brancusi', A.E. Elsen (ed.), Rodin Rediscovered, Washington DC, 1981, p. 272). The influence of Rodin's very human Eve continues, and it is perhaps not entirely frivolous to see a parallel in Yves Klein's Anthropométries, in which an obviously flesh-and-blood woman stands in for a universal image.

    Rodin initially conceived of Eve as a pair to a figure of Adam, submitted to the Salon of 1881 under the title of The Creation, which together would flank the Gates. He began work on the female in plaster, returning to it throughout the following decade. When he was unsuccessful in petitioning the government to add these monumental figures to the project he converted Adam to the thrice repeated figure of Three Shades which preside over the portal. The plaster Eve remained unfinished, but was cast in bronze at the end of the 1880s in this state. The unfocussed modelling of the left foot of the present example demonstrates that heritage. The success of the figure encouraged Rodin to have it cast in two half-size versions varying in the arrangement of the base.

    The identity of the model for Eve has been the subject of extended discussion. It may indeed have been a combination of two models, both Italian: Carmen Visconti in the 1880s and then Adèle Abruzzesi when Rodin returned to the composition in the mid 1890s. The sculptor described the sitter and the serendipitous modelling process in conversation with Henri Dujardin-Beaumetz:

    'The dark one had sunburned skin, warm, with the bronze reflections of women of sunny lands; her movements were quick and feline, with the lissomness and grace of a panther; all the strength and splendor of muscular beauty, and that perfect equilibrium, that simplicity of bearing which makes great gesture. At that time I was working on my statue "Eve."

    Without knowing why, I saw my model changing. I modified my contours, naïvely following the successive transformations of ever amplifying forms. One day, I learnt that she was pregnant; then I understood. The contours of the belly had hardly changed; but you can see with what sincerity I copied nature in looking at the muscles of the loins and sides.

    It certainly hadn't occurred to me to take a pregnant woman as my model for Eve; an accident – happy for me – gave her to me, and it aided the character of the figure singularly. But soon, becoming more sensitive, my model found the studio too cold; she came less frequently, then not at all. That is why my "Eve" is unfinished.' (Rodin quoted in H.-C.-E. Dujardin-Beaumetz, Entretiens avec Rodin, Paris, 1913, translated in A.E. Elsen, Auguste Rodin: Readings on his life and work, Englewood Cliffs, 1965, p. 164).
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats' 29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height) (Conceived in 1883 and cast between 1925 and 1935)
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats' 29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height) (Conceived in 1883 and cast between 1925 and 1935)
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats' 29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height) (Conceived in 1883 and cast between 1925 and 1935)
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats' 29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height) (Conceived in 1883 and cast between 1925 and 1935)
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