- Auguste Rodin
ÈVE, PETIT MODÈLE
- inscribed A. Rodin and with the foundry mark Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris; stamped A. Rodin on the underside
Eugène Rudier, Le Vésinet (acquired from the artist in September 1913)
Henri Coignard, Paris (received as a gift of the Compagnie Nationale des Radiateurs on the occasion of his receipt of the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur in January 1933)
Thence by descent to the present owner
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1929, no. 55, illustration of the marble version p. 41
Judith Cladel, Auguste Rodin, sa vie glorieuse, sa vie inconnue, Paris, 1936, pp. 142-143
Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustration of the plaster, pl. 17; edition catalogued pp. 88-89
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 148-157, no. 8-5, illustration of another cast p. 154
Albert E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, 1985, no. 64, illustrations of another cast pp. 74-78
Raphäel Masson & Véronique Mattiusi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, illustration of another cast p. 39
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of the Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, illustrations of other casts pp. 340-341
Conceived as part of Rodin's creations for his monumental portal, the Gates of Hell, Eve is a sensual portrayal of the mother of humanity sheltering herself in her own embrace. Depicted at the end of innocence, at the moment when she becomes aware of her nakedness, the psychological moment of Eve's revelation is rendered through the striking physicality of her pose. The fullness of her figure and the beautifully modelled curving of her body reflect her strength as well as the vulnerability of this intense moment. Rodin's working model for this sculpture was a life-size plaster that he never finished, allegedly because his model was pregnant and could not endure the long hours of posing. The artist also completed two 'half-size' versions of the sculpture, sometimes referred to as Petite Eve. The first version, also known as Eve jeune aux pieds plats, depicts the figure emerging from a roughly hewn base. In the second version, the present work, which was first executed in marble and cast in bronze in 1886, she becomes a free-standing figure.
A beautiful description of the work was written in 1903 by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke: 'It shrivels like burning paper, it becomes stronger, more concentrated, more animated. That Eve [which] was originally to be placed over The Gates of Hell, stands with her head sunk deeply into the shadow of the arms that draw together over the breast like those of a freezing woman. The back rounded, the nape of the neck almost horizontal. She bends forward as though listening to her own body as a new future begins to stir. And it is as though the gravity of this future weighed upon the sense of the woman and drew her down from the freedom of life, into the deep, humble service of motherhood.'
The first owner of this work was Eugène Rudier of the famous Rudier foundry in Paris, which cast a number of Rodin's most celebrated works. In a certificate dated 13th January 1933 (fig. 2), Eugène Rudier confirmed that the present sculpture, delivered to Monsieur Coignard in Paris, was cast in his workshop in September 1913. According to Rudier, 'this cast, made during the Master's life-time, was examined by him as much for the bronze as for the patina' (translated from French). This cast was patinated by Jean Limet, under Rodin's supervision. Eugène Rudier sold the work in January 1933, when it was presented as a gift to Henri Coignard by the Compagnie Nationale des Radiateurs, of which he was a chairman, on the occasion of his receipt of the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, awarded by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This work has remained in Coignard's family collection until now, and has not appeared on the market since 1933.
Rodin first conceived Eve in a larger size, 174cm. high. The present work belongs to the smaller size (75cm. high), which was executed in 1883 in two versions - with a round and a square base. Several other examples of this model are in major international museums, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nice, Carnegie Institute Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, City Museum and Art Gallery in Birmingham, Baltimore Museum of Art, Cantor Foundation in Los Angeles, National Art Gallery in Wellington and the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo.
Fig. 1, Another version of Eve in Rodin's studio at the Hôtel Biron, circa 1910. Photograph by Eugène Druet
Fig. 2, A certificate by the founder Eugène Rudier, dated 13th January 1933, regarding the present work