Lot 169
  • 169

Auguste Rodin

Estimate
600,000 - 800,000 USD
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Description

  • Auguste Rodin
  • Figure de l'homme qui marche, moyen modèle
  • Inscribed A. Rodin and with the foundry mark .Georges Rudier..Fondeur.Paris., dated © by Musée Rodin 1960; stamped with the raised signature A. Rodin (on the interior)
  • Bronze
  • Height: 33 in.
  • 83.8 cm

Provenance

Museé Rodin, Paris
Charles E. Slatkin Galleries, New York (acquired from the above in May 1963)
Acquired from the above on May 17, 1963

Exhibited

New York, Charles E. Slatkin Galleries; Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts & traveling, Auguste Rodin, 1840-1917: An Exhibition of Sculptures and Drawings, 1963-65, no. 63, illustrated in the catalogue 
Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Long Island Collects: The Figure & Landscape, 1870's–1980's, 1990, n.n.
Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Master Artworks from Private Collections, 2005, n.n.

Literature

Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 1927, no. 15, illustration of another cast p. 29
Judith Cladel, Rodin: Sa vie glorieuse et inconnue, Paris, 1936, pp. 132-33 & 275
Anita Leslie, Rodin: Immortal Peasant, New York, 1937, p. 304
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1938, illustration of another cast
pp. 16-17
Victor Frisch & Joseph T. Shipley, Auguste Rodin: A Biography, New York, 1939,
illustration of another cast fig. 32
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, illustration of another cast
pp. 16-17
Edouard Herriot, Rodin, Zurich, 1949, illustration of another cast pp. 78-79
Marcel Aubert, Rodin Sculptures, Paris, 1952, illustration of another cast pp. 14-15
Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1962, illustration of another cast p. 56
Albert E. Elsen, Auguste Rodin, New York, 1963, illustration of another cast pp. 28 & 30
Alan Bowness, Modern Sculpture, London, 1965, illustration of another cast p. 15
Bernard Champigneulle, Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustration of another cast pp. 57-59
Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustration of another cast pl. 10
Robert Descharnes & Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1967, illustration of another cast p. 213; illustration of the plaster version p. 55
Albert E. Elsen, "The Sculpture of Matisse, Part I" in Artforum, September 1968, vol. 7, illustrations of another cast pp. 22-26
William Tucker, The Language of Sculpture, London, 1974, illustration of another cast pp. 144-45
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, no. 65-1, illustration of another cast p. 365
Yvon Taillandier, Rodin, New York, 1978, illustration of another cast p. 6 
Albert E. Elsen, In Rodin's Studio: A Photographic Record of Sculpture in the Making, Ithaca, 1980, illustrations of another cast pls. 132-34
Albert E. Elsen, Purposes of Art, New York, 1981, illustration of another cast p. 345 Hélène Pinet, Rodin: Sculpteur et les photographes de son temps, Paris, 1985, no. 36, illustration of another cast p. 48
Monique Laurent, Rodin, Paris, 1988, illustration of another cast p. 33
Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin: Vie et oeuvre, catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre sculpté, 1840-1886, vol. I, Lausanne & Paris, 1989, no. 103a, illustration of another cast p. 131
Dominique Jarrassé, Rodin, la passion du mouvement, Paris, 1993, illustrations of another cast pp. 48-49
Albert E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, New York, 2003, no. 174, illustrations of other versions pp. 546 & 548-50
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, vol. II, Paris, 2007, no. S.495, illustrations of other casts pp. 420-22

Catalogue Note

The powerful physicality and expressive force of L’Homme qui marche, striding into the twentieth century and beyond, is undeniable; at once deeply modern and appealing to contemporary collectors while also firmly rooted in the art of Ancient Greece. The genesis of the sculpture is revealing of Rodin’s experimental working methods and his great fascination with the partial figure, redolent of excavated sculptural fragments of Roman and Greek art. Here he combines a pair of legs modeled for his sculpture St. John the Baptist (see fig. 1) in the late 1870s with a clay torso he discovered in the studio, cracked and with deep fissures, now resembling an antique sculpture.

The initial idea for St. John the Baptist was born when an Italian laborer called Cesidio Pignatelli came to Rodin's studio to offer his services as a model. Rodin later remembered how he had stepped onto the stand, planted his legs firmly and opened them up "like a compass. The stance was so true...that I cried out: ''But that's a man walking!" (François Dujardin-Beaumetz, Entretiens avec Rodin, Paris, 1992, p. 65). Sometime before 1900, the artist assembled the pair of legs with the well-aged clay torso he found in his studio. The angle and positioning of the legs is slightly different from those of St John the Baptist; rather than facing forward, the torso is placed at an angle to the left, accentuating the forward motion of the figure and its dynamism. By choosing to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground and distribute the figure's weight equally across both, entirely at odds with academic sculpture conventions, Rodin meditates on the representation of movement in its essence and depicts the moments at the beginning and the end of a step rather than the motion itself. This was surely informed by the artist's great interest in photography and the advances in the representation of motion in film.

Rodin seized on this opportunity to assemble an entirely new form, lacking a head and arms and thus anonymous yet immensely moving and powerful in his never-ending journey. He commented: "My Walking Man. He's not interested in himself...but rather in the idea of the step that he has taken and the one he must take next. This art that, through suggestion, goes beyond the sculpted figure and makes him part of a whole that the imagination gradually recomposes is, I believe, a fertile innovation" (Paul Gsell, “Propos de Rodin sur l’art et les artistes” in La Revue, no. 21, November 1, 1907, p. 100).

This composition indeed captured the imagination of Rodin's peers and patrons. Karl Wittgenstein ordered a cast in 1907, Henry Moore owned a small L’Homme qui marche  and the subject was undoubtedly greatly influential for Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) and Alberto Giacometti, himself a great admirer of the French sculptor's work and his own series on the subject of the Walking Man (conceived in 1947 and 1960; see fig. 2). Rodin gifted one of the plasters for this series to photographer Edward Steichen, who had produced haunting nocturnal photographs of Rodin’s Balzac monument, and reportedly “told him that it was a symbol meant to encourage him to keep going one step further” (quoted in Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, op.cit., p. 425). Swedish artist Anders Zorn described L’Homme qui marche at an exhibition in October 1907 as the “companion piece to the Victory of Samothrace created by a twentieth century man of genius” (ibid., p. 425; see fig. 3).

Rodin enlarged the initial plaster just beyond life size and in 1912 he exhibited it in the French embassy in Rome, the extraordinary High-Renaissance Palazzo Farnese. The palazzo was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in 1517 and later altered by Michelangelo. Rodin would have undoubtedly derived great pleasure from exhibiting his homage to Ancient and Renaissance sculpture in this context.  

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