Conceived circa 1881, rendered in a larger version circa 1900, and cast in an edition of 12. The present bronze was cast in 1986.
Musée Rodin, Paris
Galerie Montespan, Paris (acquired from the above in April 1987)
Private Collection, Hong-Kong
Private Collection, Tokyo
Acquired from the above in 1999
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, nos. 36 and 37, illustration of another cast p. 35
Robert Descharnes and Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustration of another cast p. 80
Athena Tacha Spear, Rodin Sculpture in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 1967, pl. 75, illustration of a marble version p. 59
John Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, illustrations of stone and marble versions pp. 51-52
Albert E. Elsen, Rodin Rediscovered, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1981-82, illustration of a stone version p. 88
The first marble executed of this work, titled L'Age de pierre and now lost, was shown together with a bronze cast of Eve at the exhibition of the Cercle de la rue Vivienne during February and March 1883. In his review of the exhibition, Charles Frémine wrote, " I saw [...] at the exhibition of the Cercle de la Rue Vivienne, two new works by this artist whose talent made me tremble. They were two statuettes, one in marble, l’Age de Pierre, I think; the other in bronze […] and both were twisted, tormented, demonstrating excessive and violent effort, the first as if crushed by a block of stone she carries on her back" (Charles Frémine, le Rappel, November 28, 1883). After seeing the work at the same exhibition, Gustave Geffroy described the large stone which the figure carries as "rounded, worn, immovable, and heavy like Unhappiness". Rilke similarly remarked that this figure 'bears its burden as we bear the impossible dreams from which we can find escape'" (Albert Elsen, op. cit., p. 89).
Elsen describes the pyschological implications of the composition as expressed through its formal structure in the following terms: "She is one among the damned whose inner torment is reflected by her twisted posture and by the burden that she bears, which suggest a moral more than a physical oppression. Rodin has achieved this effect through the torsion of the figure's volumes which seem simultaneously energized and equilibrated. The figure is composed in opposing planes that move from side to side and front to back, as in the counter balance of the knees, hips, and shoulders, or of the head and stony mass that the figure supports. This torsion conveys the Caryatid's physical oppression, and at the same time evokes her struggle against it; the sculpture's drama and vitality emerge from this conflict" (Albert Elsen, op. cit., p. 89).
According to Jérôme Le Blay, the first two bronze versions of Cariatide à la pierre, grand modèle were cast in 1910 and 1928 by the Alexis Rudier Foundry. 10 more bronzes were cast by the Coubertin Foundry between 1981 and 2004 under the supervision of the Musée Rodin in Paris. These casts are numbered 1/8 through 8/8 and I/IV and IV/IV, making twelve casts of Cariatide à la pierre, grand modèle in total. One of these bronzes is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
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