7- Marbles of the 1890's
Rodin’s production increased considerably in the 1890s. The sculptor began to develop the highly individual style that would soon become the trademark of his marbles: the figure seemed to emerge from the block of marble, part of which was left roughhewn. This was true of numerous busts, including those portraying Madame Fenaille, wife of one of Rodin’s principal patrons. Fascinated by the curve of the young woman’s neck, the sculptor produced several versions of her portrait by varying the position of her head.
The Centauress is, in some ways, an allegory of sculpture. Through its hybrid nature – half-human, half-animal –, the centaur is in fact a traditional symbol of the struggle between body and soul, or of the spirit seeking to free itself of matter. Hand of the Devil, another subject influenced by Symbolism, provides a good example of Rodin’s working method: he designed his composition in plaster, combining a large hand with a small female figure. He then passed the model onto a skilled studio assistant, who carved the marble using a pointing device to translate the plaster into stone.
Some of the master paintings belonging to the museum are exhibited in this room, notably three canvases by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) which Rodin bought shortly after the artist’s death. The painting by Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was purchased by the museum in 1985. It depicts The Thinker in the garden of Dr Linde, an eminent German collector and patron of both Munch and Rodin.