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Christ and the Magdalen
Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Plaster, Wood model
H. 84.5 cm ; W. 74 cm ; D. 44.2 cm
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Christ and the Magdalen is one of the rare surviving sculptures inspired by religion in Rodin’s oeuvre, and possibly corresponds to a reworked version of an earlier lost Christ, influenced by Antoine-Augustin Préault (1809-79).
Clinging to this emaciated, suffering Christ, whose overly heavy head seems to have dropped sideways, is a woman, the Magdalen, a figure originally designed for one of the damned souls on The Gates of Hell , who was then used in Meditation , the muse in Monument to Victor Hugo. The present group, which would be translated into marble for Baron Thyssen circa 1905, underscores, as Rilke wrote, “the contrast between the two bodies, imposed by the marble, [which] immediately produces an impression of the boundless sadness emanating from this subject.” The Symbolistic character of the work is enhanced by it, while the sensuality of the female figure distracts the spectator from the subject.