Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917) La Jeunesse triomphante  52.2 cm (20 9/16 in). high (Conceived in 1894, this bronze version cast between 1906 and 1918)

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Lot 30*
Auguste Rodin
(French, 1840-1917)
La Jeunesse triomphante 52.2cm (20 9/16 in). high

Sold for £ 164,500 (US$ 214,707) inc. premium
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
La Jeunesse triomphante
signed 'A Rodin' (on the front right of the base) and stamped with foundry mark 'THIEBAUT FRES PARIS FUMIERE ET CIE SUCRS' (on the left side of the base)
bronze with green-brown patina
52.2 cm (20 9/16 in). high
Conceived in 1894, this bronze version cast between 1906 and 1918

Footnotes

  • This work will be included in the forthcoming Auguste Rodin catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay, under archive number 2013-4207B.

    Provenance
    George Gund III Collection, San Francisco, by 1960; his trust sale, Bonhams, New York, 4 November 2014, lot 18.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Literature
    A. Maillard, Auguste Rodin, Statuaire: Etudes sur quelques artistes originaux, Paris, 1899 (plaster version illustrated p. 141, titled 'La parque et la jeune fille').
    G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, no. 270.
    I. Jianou & C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 106.
    A.T. Spear, Rodin Sculpture in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 1967, pp. 74-77 & 100, 101 (another cast illustrated p. 74, pl. 91).
    J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, no. 26 (another cast illustrated p. 227).
    J. de Caso & P.B. Sanders, Rodin's Sculpture, A Critical Study of the Spreckels Collection, San Francisco, 1977, no. 3 (another cast illustrated p. 54).
    A.E. Elsen, In Rodin's Studio, A Photographic Record of Sculpture in the Making, Oxford, 1980, no. 50 (plaster version illustrated).
    L. Ambrosini & M. Facos, Rodin, The Cantor Gift to the Brooklyn Museum, New York, 1987, no. 22 (another cast illustrated p. 89).
    A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, no. 52 (other casts illustrated p. 224).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, Vol. II, no. S. 2474 (another cast illustrated p. 472).

    La Jeunesse triomphante is one of Rodin's most adventurous compositions, and perhaps the most effective of the assemblages he created following his career-defining Portes de l'Enfer commission. Throughout the 1890s Rodin continued to take inspiration from the multitude of figures he moulded for this enormous scheme, and broke new ground reconfiguring them on the path to a new significance. The present work, conceived in 1894, combines the outstretched figure of an adolescent woman from La Fatigue with one of his most striking and pathos-filled creations: the old woman from Celle qui fut la belle Heaulmière. The contradictory forms of these two figures – one plump of flesh, the other hunched and withered – create a shocking dynamic full of symbolism.

    The embrace between youth and old age can be seen as the knowing passage of time, from one generation to the next, or may present a more challenging scene, as the critic Tyler Parker observed: 'The juxtaposition of the two figures, especially as conceived as originally apart, has a shocking quality – not moral but psychological. Terrible things may be involved; not only the kiss of the girl imprinted on the mouth of her malign and future fate, but the aggressiveness of the child implied by the title Youth Triumphant, as though she were drawing life from the old woman's mouth in a kind of death-and-resurrection; then again, as implied in the title The Old Courtesan, this headlong contact may picture the corruption of virgins for one of the most ancient trades' (H.P. Tyler, 'Rodin and Freud: Masters of Ambivalence' in Art News, LIV, no. 1 (March 1955), p. 64, quoted in J. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 225).

    Rodin first presented this work in marble at the 1896 Paris Salon, under the title La Vieillesse et adolescence. To the back of the group Rodin added a pair of scissors, denoting the aged figure of the Helmet Maker's wife as one of the Fates from Greek mythology, who cuts the threads of life short. Perhaps here the figure of youth succeeds in overcoming Fate, through guile and beauty. Interestingly the theme of the Fates and old age had recently been tackled in spectacular fashion by Rodin's lover and protégée Camille Claudel. In 1893 she exhibited the monumental figure of Clotho at the Salon, a visceral depiction of another of the Fates. With her emaciated body and arthritic joints, Clotho is one of Claudel's most haunting creations and the work fascinated Rodin who was at this point still involved with the sculptor romantically. Indeed, in 1895 Rodin was involved in a bid to purchase the original marble version of Clotho for the Musée de Luxembourg, just a year after creating La Jeunesse triomphante.

    The subject also bears a clear lineage from earlier works relating to the creative and romantic rapport with Claudel. The first being Rodin's Eternel printemps, from the early years of their romance where the two young lovers remain locked in a very similar 'X' formation to the current work, but this time they are joined in a passionate embrace full of lust and optimism symbolic of the beginning of their affair. The second work that we might view as being part of a 'series' is L'Age mûr by Claudel. Here the aging body of the man (Rodin) is torn between youth (Camille Claudel) and old age (Rose, his long-term partner). This question of mortality, frailty, and the struggle against time's passing was clearly a defining preoccupation between the lovers, and provided one of the most fruitful sources of inspiration around this time for both Rodin and Claudel.

    The artist signed the rights to cast this subject over to Thiébaut Frères on the 24th of October 1898, who cast this work in this size alone (despite planning for four different sizes) and in an unknown edition size. Our only clue to the number of casts done is an example numbered '50é épreuve', which may give us some indication as to final the size of the edition.
Contacts
Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917) La Jeunesse triomphante  52.2 cm (20 9/16 in). high (Conceived in 1894, this bronze version cast between 1906 and 1918)
Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917) La Jeunesse triomphante  52.2 cm (20 9/16 in). high (Conceived in 1894, this bronze version cast between 1906 and 1918)
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