Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
I am Beautiful
H. 69.8 cm ; W. 33.2 cm ; D. 34.5 cm
This two-figure group appeared in 1880 at the top of the righthand pilaster of The Gates of Hell . It is a combination of Crouching Woman and Falling Man, whose back seems to arch under the strain of holding her in his outstretched arms. Also known as The Abduction, Carnal Love or The Cat, the group began its life as an independent sculpture circa 1882, drawing inspiration from the lines of Baudelaire’s poem, “Beauty”, in Flowers of Evil, “I am beautiful, O mortals, as a dream of stone”.
It illustrates Rodin’s use of assemblages, which became one of the characteristic features of his working method. The sculptor thus profoundly altered the meaning of Crouching Woman , a very open female figure whose posture may appear either obscene or erotic, by turning her over and folding her up into a closed ball, which the man lifts into the air like Atlas. The twisting movement of the male body, anatomically unrelated to the actual gesture, established parallels between the work and the studies of movement and abductions popular in 17th- and 18th-century sculpture.