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Le Jardin des Supplices (The Torture Garden)
Octave Mirbeau (1848 -1917)
H. 32.7 cm ; W. 25.5 cm
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Amongst Rodin’s limited work as an illustrator, his collaboration with his loyal friend and fervent champion, Octave Mirbeau (1848-1917), on the latter’s book The Torture Garden, sealed their friendship for ever. In 1889, the two men, bound by the same aesthetic struggle against sterile academicism, formed a very united group with Monet and the art critic Gustave Geffroy. In 1899, after a somewhat modest first edition, Rodin and Mirbeau signed a contract with the picture dealer Ambroise Vollard, for the illustration of a luxury edition of Mirbeau’s novel, The Torture Garden.
The book was published in 1902, illustrated with 20 lithographs, protected by tissue guards, accompanied by captions and line engravings. Most of the prints of the drawings were made by the lithographer Auguste Clot (1858-1936). Rodin’s imagination was fired by the skilful mix of sinister violence and voluptuousness in this novel. He concentrated almost exclusively on the heroine Clara and the theme of Sapphic love, which is known to have been a source of inspiration for the artist’s drawings.