Sculpt Your Collection with Auguste Rodin: Impressionist & Modern Art

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Whether it’s capturing a thought, an embrace, an outstretched arm or clasping hands, the work of Auguste Rodin is unmistakable. The French sculptor’s fascination with the human figure, and his lifelong effort to show the human body as it really is, made him a pioneer and a critical link between traditional and Modern figurative sculpture. The Impressionist & Modern Art Day and Evening Sales feature several of the sculptor’s most iconic works, including Le Penseur and Le Baiser. Click ahead to explore Rodin's work, highlighting our sales on the 14th & 15th of November.

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale
14 November | New York

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale  
15 November | New York

Sculpt Your Collection with Auguste Rodin: Impressionist & Modern Art

  • Photograph by Charles Aubrey.
    Auguste Rodin in 1862, age 22.
    Rodin was born in 1840 to a working class family in Paris. Self-educated from a young age, he was rejected three times from the École des Beaux Arts, and pursued a career in the decorative arts for the next two decades.

  • Auguste Rodin & Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, L’Innocence tourmentée par l'amour, Estimate $10,000-15,000.
    In 1864, Rodin began working in the studio of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, assisting in the rendering of the sculptor's sumptuous works which recall the Rococo terracotta groups of Clodion. None of the sculptures created by Rodin during this period bear his signature, making attributions difficult; however L'Innocence tourmentée par l'amour is known to have been modeled by Rodin as it has been written about since 1902.

  • Auguste Rodin, Figure de l'homme qui marche, moyen modèle, Estimate $600,000-800,000.
    A visit to Italy in 1875 where he would see the works of Donatello and Michelangelo would greatly influence Rodin. He began to work on the famous sculpture L’age d’Airain, a life-size male figure that was so realistic critics began to allege that he had cast the work from a living model. Rodin would purposefully make future works explicitly larger or smaller than life, to prove such accusations wrong. L’Homme qui marche 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 in the late 1870s with a clay torso he discovered in the studio, cracked and with deep fissures, now resembling an antique sculpture.

  • Auguste Rodin, Le Baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle, Estimate $300,000-500,000.
    Arguably one of Rodin’s most famous commission was for the portal of a museum of decorative arts (which was never built)—La Porte de l'enfer (The Gates of Hell). Many of the figures in the portal became stand alone sculptures, including Le Baiser, Eternel printemps and Le Penseur. Around this time he met Camille Claudel, an accomplished sculptor who would become his student and lover.

  • Auguste Rodin, Éternel printemps, second état, 3ème reduction, Estimate $250,000-350,000.
  • Auguste Rodin, Penseur, Petit Modéle. Estimate $1,000,000-1,500,000.
    Rodin’s Le Penseur is one of the most recognizable sculptures in all of art history. Rodin first conceived of this image to crown the tympanum of his monumental La Porte de l'enfer (The Gates of Hell). The figure represented Dante, surrounded by the characters of his famed work The Divine Comedy, though it soon took on an independent life. “Thin and ascetic in his straight gown,’ Rodin wrote later, ‘my Dante would have been meaningless once divorced from the overall work. Guided by my initial inspiration, I conceived another ‘thinker’, a nude, crouching on a rock, his feet tense. Fists tucked under his chin, he muses. Fertile thoughts grow slowly in his mind. He is no longer a dreamer. He is a creator” (quoted in R. Masson & V. Mattiussi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, p. 38). Transcending Dante's narrative, Le Penseur became a universal symbol of reflection and creative genius.

  • Auguste Rodin, Première maquette pour le Monument aux Bourgeois de Calais, variante avec piédestal, Estimate $300,000-500,000.
    In 1884 Rodin was approached by the mayor of Calais to create a monument to the celebrated burghers of the city who, in 1347, had offered themselves to the King of England, Edward III, in return for the lifting of a yearlong siege of the town. Edward agreed on condition that the burghers presented themselves wearing nooses, sackcloth and carrying the keys to the city. The lives of the burghers were spared, but in the moment depicted by Rodin they are shown in expectation of their deaths. Pierre de Wiessant was the fourth burgher to offer his life, immediately after his brother Jacques de Wiessant. Their heroic act and that of the four others who accompanied them is commemorated in Rodin's monumental sculpture Les Bourgeois de Calais now widely recognized as one of the greatest achievements in modern sculpture.

  • Auguste Rodin, L'Un des Bourgeois de Calais: Andrieu D’Andres, vêtu, deuxième maquette, Esimate $200,000-300,000.
  • Auguste Rodin, L'Un des Bourgeois de Calais: Tête de Jean de Fiennes, version definitive, Estimate $25,000-35,000.
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