Rare Casting of Rodin's Seminal 'Age of Bronze'
at Impressionist & Modern Art Sale

A bronze cast of one of Rodin's most famous sculptures, L'Age d'airain (The Age of Bronze), leads a strong selection of the artist's work at Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Sale in London on 28 February. It is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

Conceived between 1875-1877, L' Age d'airain caused great controversy when it was first shown. The figure was so intensely realistic that critics initially refused to believe Rodin had not simply made a cast of his model. The resultant publicity boosted Rodin's public profile, and led to the commission of La Porte de l'enfer (The Gates of Hell) – the monumental group composition that preoccupied him for the rest of his life. The version of L' Age d'airain in the Bonhams sale was cast between 1935-1945 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in Paris and has resided in a private collection for generations.

The sale also includes a cast of Rodin's Faunesse à genoux (Kneeling Faun). Estimated at £100,000-150,000, it is one of the early studies for a similar figure that appears in La Porte de l'enfer. Rodin's faun is seductive and alluring, and is clearly a woman – unlike the traditional representation of female fauns as part woman, part goat. Rodin returned to the subject many times during his career, because of the emotional impact it provoked in his work and because it was popular among collectors. Bonhams Global Head of Impressionist and Modern Art India Phillips said: "Through a combination of refined figurative modelling and the rough plastic treatment of the figure's face, Rodin created a remarkably modern and enduring work".

Rodin's qualities as a draughtsman are increasingly appreciated, and the sale includes a number of examples:

- Mère et enfant is one of several drawings of mothers and children executed by Rodin in the 1880s. It was a gift from the artist to his friend the English poet Ernest Henley, who wrote the much anthologized poem Invictus and was an early advocate of Rodin's work in Britain. Estimate: £40,000-60,000

- Danseur courbé vers la droite. Estimate: £10,000-15,000.

- Le baiser des femmes. This drawing, modelled on Rodin's famous sculpture Le baiser, features two women embracing. Estimate: £6,000-8,000.


Related auctions