10- Enlargements of figures
Rodin also sought to explore the creative potential of enlarging his works. This involved using a pantograph, a mechanical device originally designed to scale down sculptures for edition purposes, but it can also be used for the opposite effect, to scale up a model. Rodin first came across this device in the late 1890s, and began enlarging figures that he had designed for the Monument to Victor Hugo. The process thus gave rise to The Inner Voice (one of the poet’s muses, derived from the figure of Meditation in The Gates of Hell) and Iris, Messenger of the Gods, the boldness of which was glaringly obvious: once enlarged and placed on a base in a vertical position without touching the ground, this fragment of a study for a reclining woman with legs apart seems to thrust her genitals towards the spectator. The Walking Man (on view in the hall), The Thinker (in the garden) and Crouching Woman were all given new leases of life through their enlargement, which simplified their modelling while increasing the physical impact of their presence. In 1910, Rodin exhibited Torso of a Young Woman with Arched Back alongside The Prayer, both of which were enlargements of motifs from The Gates of Hell. In so doing, he proved that his artistic investigations were in a similar line to those of younger sculptors like Charles Despiau (1874-1946), Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) and Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), who were all striving to achieve a certain formal purity, thereby smoothing the path towards modernity.