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Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Two Semi-Reclining Female Nudes
Pencil and watercolour on paper, cut out and assembled
H. 32.6 cm ; W. 26.2 cm
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From 1900 onwards,when Rodin was particularly pleased with an attitude or movement in one or other of his drawings, he would sometimes cut it out to further experiment with it. He thus built up a stock of cut-out silhouettes, taken from his drawings. He would then select two or three of these figures and rearrange them in a new composition. Once he had decided on the arrangement, he would use tracing paper to transfer the composition onto another sheet of paper, to which he then applied watercolours.
Two Semi-Reclining Female Nudes resulted from the assemblage of two such forms. Rodin emphasized the relief of the composition by passing one of the women’s arms over the other one’s legs. Like all the cut-out paper figures in the museum collections, these were mounted on a support after the artist’s death.
Rodin probably intended to use this two-figure assemblage in a new watercolour. The idea of replacing brushes and pencils with a pair of scissors would later be widely echoed, particularly in the Cubists’ papiers collés, in the gouache-coloured paper cut-outs produced by Matisse in the last years of his life, and in the torn-up papers and drawings Hans Arp used as starting points for his Constellations, in the 1930s.