Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
H. 66.5 cm ; W. 55 cm ; D. 61 cm
The work was first exhibited in 1889, at the Galerie Georges Petit,Paris, entitled “Basrelief. Two Old Women. One of them is to be modified”. The last sentence attests to Rodin’s modernity: he openly declared that the work presented was unfinished and was composed of a mirror image of the same figure.
In fact, Rodin re-used the same figure as in She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife and placed two identical figures of very elderly women opposite one another, thereby inaugurating the process of duplication that he also employed before 1886 in The Three Shades . The title cruelly emphasizes their loss of fertility and brings to mind the contrasting image of young mothers and children that Rodin also explored abundantly during this period. The very shape of the draped fabric, forming the grotto in which the figures are placed, recalls the Young Mother in the Grotto group, which thus constitutes a sort of pendant. Apart from the subject, in both cases the play of light and shadow features strongly and turns the work into a sort of halfway stage between very high relief and freestanding sculpture.