Birth of Venus emerging from the Waves


Circa 1889

Albumen print

H. 10 cm ; W. 14.2 cm


Outlined in gouache, retouched in graphite pencil; annotated in pen and brown ink on the right : "Naissance de Vénus sortant de l’onde".

Rodin had no qualms about tampering with photographs and thus added drawings or amendments in graphite pencil and gouache to this assemblage called Birth of Venus emerging from the Waves. These amendments went beyond a simple indication to modify a detail or improve a form. They became an autonomous drawing superimposed on the photographic image. The mechanical medium of photography and the manual medium of drawing fused into a singular work of art in its own right.


These hybrid works were perhaps the reaction of a man attached to the idea of artistic creation, at a time when it was being increasingly aided by machines, especially in the field of decorative arts. Rodin thus appropriated photography. He incorporated its cold precision into his world by transforming it into a creative medium of his own.

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