Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)

Nymphs Playing

Circa 1900-1910

Marble

H. 53.1 cm ; W. 59 cm ; D. 44.6 cm

S.1117

The two female figures in Nymphs Playing came from the abundant stock of subjects modelled in the early 1880s for The Gates of Hell , but this group, composed in the early 20th century, is far removed from the infernal atmosphere inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy.

 

Employing his by-now customary working method, Rodin used two plaster figures to compose a new work, typical of his interest in unsteady poses and in the erotic quality of the assemblage of two female bodies. This work, probably simply a sketch, was, however, sufficiently erotic to serve as a model, the making of which was entrusted to one of his practitioners. These men, who were sculptors in their own right working for Rodin, carved the marble under his supervision. In Nymphs Playing, the practitioner demonstrated a remarkable expertise in the rendering of the various textures: the smooth skin of the female bodies contrasts with the roughness of the unhewn marble, while the transparency of the marble between the nymphs’legs responds to the polished surface of the part evoking the water of the stream at their feet.

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