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Crouching Woman, also known as Lust
Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
H. 25.5 cm ; W. 21 cm ; D. 21 cm
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The original figure, conceived for the tympanum of The Gates of Hell , looks like a compact block with limbs gathered together and pressed tightly against the torso. This block-like sculpture reflects Rodin’s aesthetic analysis of Michelangelo’s sculpture: it is a work that, to quote the great Italian artist, could roll down a hill without breaking. One of the earliest figures modelled for The Gates of Hell , it was enlarged and slightly modified several years after its conception.
In its simultaneously open and closed posture, the figure is representative of the raw eroticism expressed in some of Rodin’s works during this period. Not the eroticism found in his figures of naiads or The Kiss , but a dark, disturbing sexuality, often regarded as obscene because of the muffled violence that seems to emanate from the sculpture. The quasi-animal sensuality of this figure, nicknamed the “frog”, or a “batrachian” by some of Rodin’s contemporaries, is what made it so successful. Rodin reworked it in different materials and sizes, for example in I Am Beautiful and The Fallen Caryatid carrying her Stone or The Fallen Caryatid with Urn.