Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
H. 57 cm ; W. 75 cm ; D. 57 cm
Lady Sackville-West (1862-1936) was a loyal friend of Rodin’s from 1905 onwards. She was one of those wealthy, elegant society women in Rodin’s entourage who formed the basis of his clientele for portraits, after 1900.
The sculptor met her again in London in May 1913, and the bust, commenced the following autumn, required numerous sittings. These resulted in several versions in clay, plaster and marble, in which Rodin varied the facial expressions and positions, as he had also done with the portrait of Mme Fenaille.
Lady Sackville-West was not at all pleased with the face that Rodin modelled, claiming that she did not recognize herself and looked like a “fat negress”. In the first marble version, carved by Rodin’s practitioner Rousaud, the scarf wound generously around her neck acts as an altar of repose. The facial expression hovers between a dreamlike state and sleep. Her face and pose with head tilted to one side recall the earlier work, Sleep.