Alfred Baud, Geneva (by descent)
Private Collection, Belgium (acquired in 1990. Sold: Brussels Art Auctions, Brussels, 19th June 2012, lot 276)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Gustave Geffroy, 'Le Salon de 1893', in La Vie Artistique, Paris, 1893, mentioned p. 337
Henri de Braisne, La Revue Idéaliste, Paris, October 1897
Mathias Morhardt, Mercure de France, Paris, March 1898, mentioned pp. 729-730
Robert Descharnes & François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967
Alain Beausire, Quand Rodin exposait, Paris, 1988, other casts listed pp. 116, 118, 125, 159, 228 & 242
Reine-Marie Paris & Arnaud de La Chapelle, L'Œuvre de Camille Claudel, Paris, 1990, no. 24, illustration of another cast p. 121; detail of the present cast illustrated p. 122
Gérard Bouté, Camille Claudel. Le miroir et la nuit, Paris, 1995, illustration of another cast p. 69; other casts listed p. 226
Anne Rivière, Bruno Gaudichon & Danielle Ghanassia, Camille Claudel, catalogue raisonné, Paris, 2001, no. 22, illustration of another cast p. 85
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Camille Claudel & Rodin: Time will Heal Everything, Paris, 2013, illustration of another cast p. 28
While Rodin executed several portraits of his companion, Claudel only produced the present bust image of Rodin and a charcoal drawing (fig. 1). This unembellished and intense, almost wild portrayal stands in sharp contrast to the sensuous, soft renderings that Rodin produced of his muse (fig. 2). Antoinette Le Normand-Romain described the present composition as: ‘a thin-faced, youthful Rodin, whose broad forehead and strong nose give the very image of strong will and the power of creation. This “patient” and “thoughtful” work, characterised by a very in-depth analysis of his physiognomy, was carried out in 1888-1889; it was abandoned and then taken up again, because Rodin seldom posed’ (ibid., p. 27).
Claudel executed three plaster versions of this work, two of which are at the Musée Rodin, Paris and one at Musée de Roubaix, as well as a wax-patinated plaster, now at the Musée Ziem, Martigues. The first bronze, which was originally owned by Rodin and is now at the Musée Rodin in Paris, was cast by AD Gruet Ainé in 1892 and was exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts that year. Subsequently 15 further casts were commissioned by Mercure de France and were cast by François Rudier in Paris. Several of these casts are now in public collections: Musée Municipal, Guéret; Musée d'Art et d'Archéologie, Aurillac; Musée du Petit-Palais, Paris; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco and Museo Soumaya, Mexico City. Claudel had an agreement with Mercure de France that she would chase the caduceus sign - in ancient Roman mythology the winged staff entwined by two serpents carried by Mercury, the messenger of the gods. However, eventually she only chased the sign on the first few casts, and the present work is one of only three known casts to bear the caduceus.
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