Lot 26
  • 26

Auguste Rodin

4,000,000 - 8,000,000 USD
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  • Auguste Rodin
  • Eve
  • Inscribed with the signature A. Rodin
  • Synnada marble
  • Height: 31 1/4 in.
  • 79.5 cm


Dr. Max Linde, Lübeck (acquired from the artist in 1901)

Siegfried Buchenau, Gut Weißenrode, Niendorf nr. Lübeck (acquired from the above circa 1922)

Thence by descent to the previous owner


Octave Mirbeau et al., Auguste Rodin et son Oeuvre, Paris, 1900, illustration of another version p. 3

Letter from Max Linde to Auguste Rodin, October 17, 1900

Letter from Max Linde to Auguste Rodin, October 28, 1900

Letter from Auguste Rodin to Max Linde, November 2, 1900

Letter from Auguste Rodin to Max Linde, December 17, 1900

Letter from Auguste Rodin to Max Linde, March 19, 1901

Letter from Max Linde to Auguste Rodin, July 4, 1901

Letter from Auguste Rodin to Max Linde, July 7, 1901

Letter from Max Linde to Auguste Rodin, late August (?) 1901

Letter from Auguste Rodin to Max Linde, September 1, 1901

Emil Heilbut, "Die Sammlung Linde in Lübeck," in Kunst und Künstler, vol. 2, October 1903, mentioned pp. 6-20

Emil Heilbut, "Die Sammlung Linde in Lübeck," in Kunst und Künstler, vol. 2, May 1904, illustrated p. 316.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Auguste Rodin, Leipzig, 1922, illustration of another version pls. 22 et 23

Léonce Benedite, Rodin – A Series of 60 Photogravure Plates, London, 1924, illustration of another version pl. XVI

Judith Cladel, Auguste Rodin, sa Vie glorieuse, sa Vie inconnue, Paris, 1936, pp. 142- 143

Georges Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Monaco, 1944, illustration of another version p. 44

Marcel Aubert, Rodin Sculptures, Paris, 1952, illustration of another version p. 21

Albert E. Elsen, Auguste Rodin, London, 1962, illustration of another version p. 51

Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1962, illustration of another version p. 61

Albert E. Elsen, Auguste Rodin, Readings on his Life and Work, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1965, illustration of another version p. 164

Rodin (exhibition catalogue), The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1966, illustration of another version p. 22

Robert Descharnes & Jean-Francois Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustration of another version p. 99

Rodin : Sculpture and Drawings (exhibition catalogue), The Hayward Gallery, London, 1970, illustration of another version p. 33

John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 148- 157, no. 8-5, illustration of another version p. 154

Albert E. Elsen, In Rodin’s Studio, A Photographic record of sculpture in the making, Ithaca, New York, 1980, illustration of another version pls. 24, 25 et 26

Claudie Judrin, ‘Acquisition par le musée Rodin d’une peinture de Munch’, in Revue du Louvre, vol. 31, Paris, 1981, mentioned p. 388.

Albert E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, 1985,  no. 64, illustration of another version

Alain Beausire, Quand Rodin exposait, Paris, 1988, illustration of another version p. 209

Ruth Butler, Rodin, The Shape of Genius, New Haven et Londres, 1993, p. 159, pp. 161-162, illustration of another version pl. 66

Rodin en 1900 – L’exposition de l’Alama (exhibition catalogue), Musée du Luxemborug, Paris, 2001, illustration of another version pp.293-295

Rodin y la revolución de la escultura: de Camille Claudel a Giacometti (exhibition catalogue), Palma, 2004, illustration of another version p. 83

Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, illustration of another version pp.338-340 & 345 & 347

Rodin, La chair, le marbre (exhibition catalogue), Musée Rodin, Paris, 2012


Excellent condition. Carved in Synnada marble and exhibiting the inherent characteristics of that material with a few impurities visible at various points in the stone.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The head sinks deeply into the darkness of her arms, drawn together above her breasts as though she were freezing. Her back is rounded, her neck almost horizontal, she bends forward as if listening to her own body in which a foreign future begins to take life. -- Rainer Maria Rilke

It was with these words that the great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke described Rodin’s Eve, one of the most exceptional sculptures in his oeuvre.  Here the artist reaches a climax of creativity, refining the expression of gesture and body language in a seminal image of the free-standing female figure.  The sculpture displays an abundance of sensual detail and textural juxtaposition.  The suppleness of the figure's flesh contrasts with the roughly-hewn rock base on which she stands.  Eve's right leg stands firmly on the ground while her left leg seems in search of stability. Her soft belly is fully disclosed while her arms hide her face and breasts. Such contrasts are a hallmark of this sculpture: Eve is both the symbol of impending motherhood as well as the Biblical seductress responsible for humankind’s banishment from Paradise.  But most of all, the figure epitomizes the eternal beauty of the female body, brought to life in stunning detail. 

This exquisite marble carving of Eve was commissioned by the renowned collector, Dr. Max Linde. Linde created an extraordinary collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, including works by Monet, Manet, Degas, Whistler and Munch, that he displayed in his home in Lübeck.  Linde had bought his first sculpture by Rodin in 1898, but his enthusiasm for the artist seems to have been particularly inspired by a visit to Rodin’s pavilion at the Paris World Fair on October 12, 1900. Only a few days later, he sent his first letter to the artist, expressing his deep admiration and stating his desire to purchase an entire group of Rodin’s works, first and foremost two particularly important sculptures:  the figure of Eve in marble (the present sculpture) and a cast of the Age of Bronze.  While Linde agreed to purchase an already extant cast of the Age of Bronze (which arrived in Lübeck in early December 1900), he ordered the sculpture of Eve to his own specifications: it was to be carved from marble of Synnada, a stone Linde had particularly admired in Rodin’s exhibition for its beautiful grain and color. Work on the Eve began in December 1900 and was finished late in June 1901.

Because of Linde's influence and importance as a collector, Rodin was determined to impress his patron.  The present work, therefore, is a superlative example of Rodin's talent and ranks among the most successful works of his entire production.  The execution is truly exacting, with every curve and contour of the figure's body expressed convincingly. Upon his receipt of Eve from Rodin, Linde wrote to the artist expressing his deep satisfaction in the carving and marvelling at its profound visual impact:  "Thank you for the distinction of the work. You have put in it, sir, the subtlest expression of the woman’s soul, the conflict between such various sensations as modesty, fear of the unknown, and coquetry. It is impossible to quickly exhaust this beautiful work; the more I see it, the more “Eve” tells me about the happiness and the sufferings of the artist" (Dr. Max Linde in a letter to Auguste Rodin, August 1901). The commission, execution and installation of Eve at Linde’s Lübeck home are documented in a correspondence between artist and patron that give us extraordinary insight into this pivotal moment of Rodin’s career.

Rodin was the artist who almost single-handedly realized the impact of modern sculpture. With his deep understanding of emotion and its manifestations in the human body he became the founding father of a new freedom of expression that was eventually to conquer all Europe. But in spite of his innovative approach, Rodin also sought to root his art in the achievements of the old masters, particularly Michelangelo, whom he deeply admired. Thus, Eve’s emphatic gesture of defence and protection recalls Michelangelo’s Boboli Slaves as well as the Expulsion from Paradise on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In Michelangelo’s painting, however, Eve is under the protection of Adam. Rodin’s Eve, by contrast, is the quintessential outcast, a powerful symbol for human fragility and loneliness in a modern age.

The sculpture was conceived initially between 1881-1883 as a pendant to the life-size figure of Adam with which it would have flanked the Gates of Hell, perhaps Rodin’s greatest artistic enterprise. Over the years, however, this initial idea for the placing of these figures was abandoned. Indeed, the Gates of Hell became the sculptor’s laboratory for the creation of a vast number of human forms, many of which – like Eve – eventually took on independent life among sculpture’s greatest achievements.