Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Monument to Puvis de Chavannes
H. 187 cm ; W. 110 cm ; D. 76.5 cm
In 1891, Rodin had modelled a bust of his friend Puvis de Chavannes, the great “decorator of walls”, one of the most famous artists of his day, alongside Monet and Rodin himself.The painter died in 1898 and Rodin soon received a commission for a commemorative monument. Rodin designed an assemblage of pre-existing figures and objects: the bust of Puvis stood on two capitals, placed one on top of the other. Leaning towards the portrait bust was a large Spirit of Eternal Repose, also known as Funerary Spirit picking fruit off an apple tree, which symbolized both the painter’s renown and the well-deserved peace he had just been granted.
Reference to the Antique, so dear to Puvis, dominated this bold installation: the superposition of architectural elements alludes to the stacks of pieces found on archaeological sites, while the Spirit derived from an ancient statue in the Louvre. Rodin never finished this monument, but it may have served as a source of inspiration for Alberto Giacometti’s astonishing Surrealist Table (1933).