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Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Sheet of Studies
Circa 1875-1876 (?)
Pencil, pen and brown ink, brown wash and gouache, on five pieces of paper, cut out and mounted on a page in an album later take
H. 26.4 cm ; W. 33.3 cm
D.274 to D 279
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Rodin’s journey to Italy in 1876-76 was a decisive moment in his career. In a letter he sent to Rose Beuret, he wrote, “To tell you that since my first hour in Florence I have been making a study of Michelangelo will not surprise you, and I believe that the great magician is giving up a few of his secrets to me.”
Rodin filled many “pocket-sized” sketchbooks with a huge variety of tiny drawings, which he later cut out and rearranged in a different order – the logic of their juxtaposition is sometimes obscure – and then pasted onto the sheet of an album.
In the semi-reclining figure on a pediment, at the top of the sheet, and in the figure lying on a support, further to the right, it is easy to recognize the twisting movements and contorted poses inspired by Michelangelo, expressing the torments of the human condition, translated by Rodin in a network of fine entangled lines, penned quickly in ink. The Virgin and Child, on the left, seems to have borrowed the posture of Michelangelo’s Moses. To bring these figures to life, the search for that condensed passion, which Rodin talked about in his conversations with Paul Gsell, is combined with the skilful modelling, subtly rendered by contrasting colour effects. These figures – which are not projects for works in another medium – show how freely Rodin drew his inspiration from the Italian master’s models, but without ever copying them.