In the S...

Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)

Circa 1880

Pencil, pen and ink, ink wash and gouache on paper mounted on ruled paper from a ledger

H. 18,2 cm ; W. 13,6 cm


Former Maurice Fenaille Collection, acquired in 1929 ?

This work on paper is one of the gouache or ink wash drawings that Rodin did while reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, in 1880-83.


The central figure, curled up on himself, immersed in a sort of cesspool, is literally drowning in violet ink, while a procession of shades seem to observe him from above. Annotated in pen and ink on the right, dans la m..., this drawing recalls the meeting between Dante and one of the corrupters and flatterers, Alessio Interminei of Lucca:“And I, thence peering down, saw people in the lake’s foul bottom, plunged in dung... Searching its depths, I there made out a smeared head...”(Dante, Inferno, Canto XVIII).

In the S... illustrates a process frequently used by Rodin the draughtsman – collage.The drawing,made on a fragile page from a notebook of ordinary paper,was subsequently cut out by the artist and stuck onto a larger sheet of paper. The consolidation of the original drawing at the same time enabled it to be enlarged, extended. This practice demonstrates how Rodin refused to “finish” a work, to consider it final. He was in the habit of reworking earlier drawings and combining them with new sketches, or new figures, as part of a metamorphic, cyclic process that would later reoccur in his sculptures.

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