Day 16: Auguste Rodin

Sorry! My internet has been off.

(1893) "The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation. "

Auguste Rodin started drawing at an early age. “When I was very young, as far as I can remember, I made drawings.
A grocer patronized by my mother used to wrap his prunes in paper bags made of pages torn from illustrated books, or even prints. I copied them;  they were my first models.”  At 14 he became a student at Petite École where he took drawing and copied 18th century French artists. Though he was a studious individual, his near-sightedness made him struggle a great deal and his classmates and teachers never thought he was someone of exceptional talent.

In 1857 he failed the entrance exams for the third time to get into École des Beaux-Arts. These experiences with academia would be the reason he had such a strong aversion to school and conventional art.

(1860) Jean Baptiste Rodin (Auguste's father). From 1858-1862 Rodin worked as a brick mason. "In my opinion too, this was certainly inferior work. But I had to learn at this development process that this point of view was incorrect."

In 1862, his sister passed away.

Man with Broken nose (1862)

Seeking solace, he started studying to enter the priesthood at Les Pères du Saint-Sacrément. While there, he sculpted a bust of the founder Father Pierre-Julien Eymard.

Father Pierre-Julien Eymard (1863)

Recognizing his gift, Father Eymard suggested that he leave the order to pursue his passion. Rodin took his advice and became a member of L’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs. 

(1864) The year he met his life partner, seamstress Rose Beuret. She becomes his model and tends to his work while he studies and travels abroad.

Young Lady with Flower Hat (1865)

In 1866, Auguste-Eugene Beuret is born, Auguste and Rose’s first child. He fell through a window and suffered severe head trauma that made him incapable of normal cognitive development. He never reached his father’s expectations of him.

Mignon (1869) Modeled after Rose.

In 1870 the Franco-Prussian war broke out and Rodin’s near sightedness saved him from the draft.In 1871, while he was working in Brussel’s his mother passed away. Rose moved in with his father to help take care of the man slipping farther into senility and their son. The next year Rose joined him in Brussels and left her son and his father in the care of his Aunt.

In 1875 Auguste created studies of a Belgium Soldier named Auguste Neyt. These studies are what later become “The Age of Bronze” in 1877.

The Age of Bronze (1877) There was a scandal over this piece the first 2 times he showed it. It was thought that he had caste the figure from life. That it was too detailed and perfect to have been sculpted by hand.

“Owing to these terrible doubts raised by the jury, I find myself robbed of the fruits of my labors. Contrary to what people think I did not cast my figure from the model but spent a year and a half on it; during that time my model came to the studio almost constantly. Moreover I have spent my savings working on my figure, which I had hoped would be as much of a success in Paris as it was in Belgium since the modeling seems good – it is only the procedure that has been attacked. How painful it is to find that my figure can be of no help to my future; how painful to see it rejected on account of a slanderous suspicion!”

St. John The Baptist Preaching (1877)

“(The sculptor) represents the transition from one pose to another – he indicates how insensibly the first glides into the second. In his work we still see a part of what was and we discover a part of what is to be. (..). Now, for example, while my Saint John is represented with both feet on the ground, it is probable that an instantaneous photograph from a model making the same movement would show the back feet already raised and carried forward to the other.(..) Now it is exactly for that reason that this model photographed would present the odd appearance of a man suddenly stricken with paralysis and petrified in his pose. (..) It is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop, and if the artist succeeds in producing the impression of a movement which takes several moments for accomplishment, his work is certainly much less conventional than the scientific image, where time is abruptly suspended.”

The Call to Arms (1877) Rodin submitted a terracotta sketch of this piece to a monument competition for a tribute to the French-Prussian war. It was thought to be too violent for the new calm France. It didn't even receive an honorable mention.

The Thinker (1880) One of the most famous sculptures in history, featured in his piece "The Gates of Hell"

The Gates of Hell (1880) On top stands 3 copies of his famous sculpture "the shade"

Shades of Eve (1881) Rodin said he saw this model change with every sitting, finally, after altering the piece each time he found out that she was pregnant. He thought this lucky and presented Eve in the same way. However, since his model left on maternity leave, he never got to complete it.

In 1883, he met Camille Claudel. In 1884 he won a competition and earned the comission for ”The Burghers of Calais’ which he completed with Camille’s assistance in 1889.

The Burghers of Calais (1889)

Rodin broke away from tradition by not presenting the figures in a pyramid form, but by showing them non-hierarchically grouped amongst each other.

From 1884 to 1889 Rodin created many pieces reflecting his relationship with Camille.

Fugitive Love (1884)

Danaid (1885) Camille posed for this piece.

Faun and Nymph (1886) Rodin portrayed himself as the Faun and Camille as the Nymph. Fauns are notorious for their insatiable sexual apetite and were often portrayed with erections in Greek art.

Paolo & Francesca (1887) Two characters from his beloved Divine Comedy

The Sirens (1887) Rodin displayed female homosexuality several times in his work like in "Damned Women".

Centauress (1887 or 1889)

The Kiss (1888)

In 1888, Camille’s family found out about the true nature of her relationship with Rodin and kick her out of the house.

Eternal Idol (1889) This year, Rodin exhibited with his friend Claude Monet, who complained about his friends work but the exhibition was still a huge success.

As I said in my last blog, Camille was his model, muse, confidante, etc. She mixed his gypsum, she built models, as well as enlarged them, she created important parts of his pieces, particularly the hands and feet. Camille, who loved to carve marble, also got to do this. Rodin usually hired a practitioner or had his assistants carve his marble for him.

Farewell (1892) Though they spent the year abroad together the year before, Camille and Auguste bid eachother audieu.

Orpheus and Eurydice (1892)

Pygmalion (1908) An echo of Camille's Sakountala.

Bust of Gustav Mahler (1909) Composer he thought very highly of. He made a bust titled "Mozart" that was just another portrait of Mahler.

In 1913 Camille was institutionalized, he helped pay the medical bill. In 1917 he and Rose passed away. I’m sorry for cutting this short but I lost a lot of time when my internet was down and Id like to get through more material.

This will be the last of my “couple” blogs… for now

The Pythia