Lot 8
  • 8

Auguste Rodin

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • Auguste Rodin
  • Tête d'Hanako, étude type A, moyen modèle
  • inscribed A. Rodin and dedicated A l'Admirable Géniale artiste Loie Fuller
  • bronze
  • height: 17.5cm.
  • 6 7/8 in.


Loïe Fuller, Paris (acquired from the artist)

Private Collection, France

Sold: Sotheby Park Bernet, Monaco, 25th November 1979, lot 75

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Andros, Fondation Basil & Elise Goulandris, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Auguste Rodin - Camille Claudel, 1996, no. 46, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1929, other versions illustrated pp. 116 & 117

Robert Descharnes & Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne & Paris, 1967, a larger cast illustrated p. 254

Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, edition catalogued p. 111

Albert E. Elsen, Rodin, London, 1974, another cast illustrated p. 119

John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, plaster illustrated p. 547

Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin. Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. II, other casts illustrated pp. 403 & 404

Catalogue Note

Rodin first saw the Japanese actress Ohta Hisa (nicknamed Hanako or ‘little flower’) in a performance of La Revanche de la Geisha in Marseille in 1906. He was immediately struck by her performance and by the expressivity of her face, recalling: ‘Her face became immovable, as if petrified, but her eyes continued to reveal intense animation… with great wide open eyes she surveyed death, which had just overtaken her’ (quoted in A. Le Normand-Romain, op. cit., p. 403). Hanako, who had once been a geisha, belonged to a troupe of Japanese performers who had been discovered by the legendary dancer and producer Loïe Fuller whilst performing in England. It was Fuller – to whom this work is dedicated – who arranged for Hanako to come to Rodin’s Meudon studio and sit for the great artist; she would model for him over a period of four years with Rodin experimenting with different forms and dispositions before settling on the close-up intimacy of the heads that he would eventually have cast in bronze.  

These sculptures reveal Rodin’s acute sensitivity to physiognomy and ability to capture the full force of a fleeting expression or emotion. Hanako was the perfect model in this respect; her ability – after years as a performer – to hold a fixed expression for long enough to model, made her an attractive proposition for the artist. The resulting sculptures are notable for their intensity of expression and the remarkable intimacy that Rodin achieves. As Albert E. Elsen writes: ‘one does not have the sense that Rodin was striving for the essential Hanako or ‘reassembling in a single expression the successive expressions given by the same model’. Other than the faces of the anonymous models who inspired the anguished expressions in The Gates of Hell, the Hanako series alone shows Rodin encouraging a woman to express a range of feelings that include anger as well as serenity’ (A. E. Elsen, Rodin’s Art: The Rodin Collection of Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Stanford, 2003, p. 430).