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Battle between a Man and a Reptile, also known as Transmutation of Man into Reptile
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Former Maurice Fenaille collection, donation, 1929
The subject of this drawing corresponds to the eighth circle of Hell as described by Dante in the Divine Comedy. The thieves are thrown into a pit full of snakes: “Among this cruel and depressing swarm ran shades, naked, terrified, without a hope of hiding” (Canto XXIV). Dante describes how a shade and a serpent melted together and metamorphosed into each other. This is the most fascinating of Rodin’s several drawings on this theme; the two figures are so closely intertwined that it is hard to distinguish them. Fights between humans and animals are among Rodin’s darkest and most violent depictions.
Rodin very rarely used purple in his work, but here, he covered the whole page with it. He began with a pencil sketch then applied black ink before adding the outlines and pen lines. Last of all, he applied the purple―a mixture of red and (probably bluish) black inks and white gouache. The kind of low-quality paper used here came from notebooks whose pages Rodin pasted onto slightly larger sheets. The drawings done in connection with the commission for The Gates of Hell were always on small sheets of paper; although they are dated from the 1880s, the use of purple suggests that this particular work dates from about 1899. It is noteworthy that this type of drawing rarely resulted in a sculpture.
Completion date :
H. 18.8; W. 11.7 cm
Graphite pencil, ink wash and white gouache on squared paper
Inventory number :
© musée Rodin - photo Jean de Calan
- Battle between a Man and a Reptile, also known as Transmutation of Man into Reptile(zip, 405.5 ko)