Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Female Nude with Left Leg Outstretched
Graphite pencil, brown ink, red pastel, pen
H. 20.2 cm ; W. 12.7 cm
From 1890 onwards, as his reputation grew, the artist could at last afford to employ models on a regular basis. The female body, in all its many states, then became, with a few exceptions, his unique field of exploration. Forbidding any sort of pose, Rodin drew the model, asking her to move freely around his studio, and swiftly jotted down, with surprising vivacity, such and such a movement that seemed right or particularly expressive. There is nothing academic about Female Nude with Left Leg Outstretched. It is a drawing devoid of modelling, with decidedly emphatic contours, sketched in pencil and ink, which make the silhouette in a contrapposto stance stand out against the white page. The time Rodin spent observing his model and executing his sketch was very brief.The insistent reworking of the contour lines and the amendments he made in strokes of red pastel attest to his desire to capture an authentic, expressive movement.
This Female Nude with Left Leg Outstretched seems to herald the vitality of Fauvist drawings and the graphic investigations, circa 1903-06, of an artist like Matisse, who would write: “We strive to very rapidly discover what is characteristic about a gesture, an attitude. Didn’t Delacroix say that we should be able to draw a man falling from a sixth floor window?” (Guenne, 1925).