Michelangelo’s art inspired in Rodin a sense of freedom that contradicted the classical canons of the time. Rodin himself had no intuitive affinity with the academic school of art: he had been rejected from the École des Beaux-Arts three times prior to his trip to Italy. His first encounter with the physical models of Michelangelo was therefore formative, not only liberating him from the preconceptions of his studies but inspiring him with a new kind of visual vocabulary: “The emotional quality of the modeling, the tormented poses, and the throbbing power that stemmed directly from Michelangelo’s non finito technique reassured Rodin, even as they revealed new paths to explore" (ibid., p. 151). Though inspired by Michelangelo, over the course of his long career Rodin created his own distinctive visual idiom that was to transform modern sculpture whilst still at times referencing the old.
The present model is exemplary of Rodin’s imaginative versatility in its numerous references. La Génie du repos éternel, which appears to be at the point of losing its balance, is a direct reference to The Spirit of Eternal Repose located in the Louvre and Skopas’s figure of Pothos (see fig. 1).
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