AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Age d'airain, petit modèle dit aussi 2ème réduction  64.5 cm (25 3/8in). high (Conceived between 1875 - 1877, this reduction from November 1904. This bronze version cast by the Alexis Rudier Foundry between 1935 - 1945.)

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Lot 6
Age d'airain, petit modèle dit aussi 2ème réduction 64.5 cm (25 3/8in). high

Sold for £ 260,750 (US$ 325,757) inc. premium
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
Age d'airain, petit modèle dit aussi 2ème réduction
signed 'Rodin' (on the base), inscribed with the foundry mark 'Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris' (to the verso) and stamped with the raised signature 'A. Rodin' (on the inside of the base)
bronze with black-brown patina
64.5 cm (25 3/8in). high
Conceived between 1875 - 1877, this reduction from November 1904. This bronze version cast by the Alexis Rudier Foundry between 1935 - 1945.


  • 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 & Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay.

    (Possibly) Marcel Cachin Collection, Paris.
    Charles & Colette Cachin Collection, Paris (in the 1950s).
    Olivier Ferrer-Cachin Collection, London (by descent from the above).
    Thence by descent to the present owners.

    G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1929 (plaster version illustrated p. 31)
    M. Aubert, Rodin Sculptures, Paris, 1952 (another cast illustrated pl. 11).
    C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1962 (another cast illustrated pp. 54 - 55).
    A. E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963 (another cast illustrated p. 20)
    I. Jianou & C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967 (other casts illustrated pls. 6 & 7)
    R. Descharnes & J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, London, 1967 (larger cast illustrated p. 53 & plaster version illustrated p. 54).
    J. L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, The Collection of the Rodin Museum Philadelphia, Philadelphia, 1976, pl. 64 (larger cast illustrated pp. 343 & 345).
    C. Goldscheider, Auguste Rodin, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre sculpté, Vol. 1, 1840 - 1886, Paris, 1989, no. 95d (other casts illustrated pp. 114, 115 & 117).
    I. Ross & A. Snow (eds.) in association with The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, Rodin, A Magnificent Obsession, London, 2001, no. 17 (another cast illustrated p. 28).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of works in the Musée Rodin, Vol. 1, Paris, 2007 (plaster version and other casts illustrated pp. 121 - 128).

    Age d'airain is a work of unprecedented importance within the oeuvre of Auguste Rodin. It transformed European sculpture and truly set the artist on his path as the father of modern sculpture. Initially causing huge controversy through its unfathomable perfection, critics soon realised the importance of both the sculpture and indeed its author. With versions of the figure in major public collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and of course the Musée Rodin in Paris, it is undeniable how key this work is to our appreciation of sculpture as a medium.

    Rodin began his work on Age d'airain in Brussels after an inspirational trip to Italy in 1876, where his exposure to the Florentine masters Donatello and Michelangelo had a profound effect on him, particularly Michelangelo's Dying Slave with which we can draw a clear comparison with Age d'airain. His chosen model was Auguste Neyt, a Belgian soldier, and not a professional model. It was through his form that Rodin sought a raw naturality in place of an exaggerated pose. This is an early example of Rodin's desire to strip away the narrative of myth and allegory from academic sculpture and to explore the natural elements of the human form. He dismissed the gods and muses of Neo-Classical tradition and focused on the distinctly human characteristics of psychology and physicality, making his surfaces rougher and more unfinished in contrast to the polished idealised figures of his predecessors like Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belluese. As a naturalist, Rodin was more concerned with character, emotion and movement: it is this appreciation for the subtlety of movement that perhaps stems from the influence of his teacher Antoine-Louis Barye, who paid great attention to the details of animals in motion. Auguste Neyt provided a figure that offered Rodin the chance to depict both an outer physicality as well as the inner emotional conflict of the modern man.

    Age d'airain recalled an early era in the history of humankind, a suspended moment of self-awareness and human awakening. It possesses a mastery of light, form and shadow, with rugged textured surfaces, all of which add to the work's startlingly realistic presence. After its unveiling at the Salon in Paris in 1877, the perfect realism of Age d'airain caused many critics to believe it was in fact a surmoulage, cast directly from the body of the model. Whilst fighting to deny these allegations, Rodin's notoriety was in fact boosted by the affair and it eventually led to the French government both purchasing a version of the work, in addition to commissioning La porte de l'enfer in 1880 - one of Rodin's most celebrated works. We can see the true precision of the Age d'airain from the photograph of Neyt, taken by Gaudenzio Marconi, a prolific photographer of nudes. Through studying this image, Rodin's masterful execution of the sculpture is only emphasized and his brilliance in capturing the human profile reinforced.

    Auguste Rodin's combination of a boldly modern approach to form and finish, whilst maintaining a respect for sculptural tradition through his focus on the human form, is as remarkable today as it was during his lifetime. His sculptures are still revered for their beauty, emotional power and technical brilliance, with Age d'airain considered amongst his finest work. As one of Rodin's earlier works and the catalyst of his international renown, there is no denying its pivotal importance.
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