Antoine Bourdelle (1861 -1929)
Letter from Antoine Bourdelle to Rodin
1893 (20 September)
Ink on paper
H. 13.6 cm ; W. 18.1 cm
After his exhibition in 1889 at the Galerie Georges Petit (1856-1920), Rodin recruited new assistants to help him meet an influx of commissions. François Pompon (1855-1933), Jean Escoula (1851-1911), Victor Peter (1840-1918) and Antoine Bourdelle thus joined the team working for him, of which Jules Desbois (1851-1935) had already been a part for several years. All of them led their own independent careers in tandem.
This letter from Bourdelle, written right at the beginning of their collaboration, conveys his enthusiasm and provides insight into his relationship with Rodin. It took more than being a good sculptor to be a good assistant or practitioner; one also had to learn the master’s style. When he wrote this letter, Bourdelle was busy carving a marble commissioned by a patron. Having reached an advanced stage in his work, he asked Rodin for his opinion before finishing it. The two artists remained on good terms, even after Bourdelle stopped working for Rodin. They shared the same love of Greco-Roman antiquities which they both collected.