Astarte, after the Dancer Alda Moreno

Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)

Circa 1912

Pencil and stumping

H. 20.1 cm ; W. 31 cm


Seldom can Rodin’s models be identified. Circa 1910, he made the acquaintance of a Spanish dancer and acrobat working at the Opéra Comique, called Alda Moreno, the forms of whose athletic body can be seen in about 50 drawings. These superb line drawings, on sheets larger than those Rodin ordinarily used,were executed in pencil and stumped so as to model the volumes of the body more accurately. The inscription, Astarté,made by Rodin to the acrobat’s right, identifies the female body with a star. Astarté or Ishtar, the daughter of the moon god and the twin sister of the sun, was worshipped as the goddess of Love and Desire in Mesopotamian mythology and assimilated to Aphrodite by the Greeks.


In this drawing, the dancer, whose acrobatic pose recalls a yoga position, seems to be hovering over the ground, rather like a flying saucer. The litheness of her body is accentuated by the excessive stretching movement of the supple arm. The extension of and amendments to the fingers touching the edge of the sheet, like the word bas inscribed by the artist on the right, illustrate Rodin’s habit of turning his drawings around to find a new direction for them, a new meaning.


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