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Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Slumber Flower. Young Mother embracing her Child
Pencil and watercolour on paper
H. 25 cm ; W. 32.5 cm
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An ochre watercolour wash, brushed quickly across the woman’s body, unifies the reclining figure and makes it stand out against the background.However, the wash does not remain within the outline and, as in many of Rodin’s late watercolours, spreads over and beyond the pencil line, or, in places, forms cloudy patches or rings of diluted colour.
The drawing bears the sculptor’s original annotation, Fleur de sommeil. But titles of Rodin’s works were very often attributed and written down after the work was finished, sometimes even suggested by the people around him. For the artist, the title was secondary: “First of all, nature must be captured as it offers itself, then, once the work is finished, its precise meaning can be found, if one so wishes.”
Rodin must have come back to this drawing and added a few strokes of thicker pencil, a base and a background to the slumbering woman.This was probably when the form of a tiny baby seemed to have emerged out of the patch of watercolour, beneath the sleeping nude’s chin. He therefore made the lines clearer and completed the title with the addition of Jeune mère embrasse son enfant.
This work clearly shows how Rodin deliberately let himself be guided by the evocative power of a patch of colour, and incorporated chance into his creative process.