2- Decorative works

Rodin returned to Paris in 1877 in the hope of commanding respect in the art world. Disappointed by the suspicious reaction to The Age of Bronze, he started working for Carrier-Belleuse again. Based on a design by his employer, he modelled the male figures adorning the pedestal of The Titans Jardiniere, inspired by Michelangelo’s works that he had seen in Italy in 1876.

As artistic director of the Manufacture de Sèvres, France’s national porcelain factory, Carrier- Belleuse also employed Rodin there.

The sculptor ingeniously experimented with the techniques of decorating porcelain. He further explored the decorative style that he had used for many of his Belgian pieces. A group of terracotta works provides an eloquent example of the traditional techniques that he had learned and would continue to use throughout his career. He made multiple casts of the two figures in these assemblages – a seated Venus with a small Cupid – and then combined them in different manners to form variants. Ixelles Idyll, a more ambitious later work, recalls the same aesthetic approach, inspired by 18th-century figurines.

Seeking to earn repute as an independent artist, in 1879 Rodin tried his luck in two public competitions. The first was for the design of a monument commemorating the defence of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Rodin submitted a fiery, highly unconventional maquette, which was not retained. In the second competition, for a statue representing the Republic, the outcome for Rodin was no happier: his very ornate and expressive bust was eliminated by a jury intent on creating the symbols of the new regime.

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