Two sculptures by Auguste Rodin to be sold at Sotheby’s Amsterdam


RodinThe important sale of Modern and Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Amsterdam on 23 May 2006 offers two magnificent sculptures by Auguste Rodin. Rodin’s ceramic Tête monumentale of Honoré Balzac and the bronze bust of Aimé-Jean Dalou have not been seen to the public for at least fifty years.

In 1891 Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was commissioned to create a monument for the famous French author Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850). As Balzac had died half a century before, Rodin started working on the portrait by studying descriptions of contemporaries and photographs by Nadar. He visited Balzac’s birthplace to look for a look-alike – and found one. After six years of preparation Rodin decided that he wanted a portrait that went beyond likeness but that would evoke the tumultuous life of Balzac. As the statue had to be viewed from a distance, Rodin could accentuate his features. He made a protuberant head with heavy eyelids, nose, mouth, chin and neck. The impressive hair on the left looks like a lion’s mane and makes this portrait impressive and dominating. The head, executed in glazed stoneware, with blue, green and golden patina, is one of Rodin’s strongest and most intrusive creations of his later period. Although Rodin never saw the head of Balzac in bronze, he experimented in a series of ceramic casts the effect of different colours imitating the patina of aging bronze, in cooperation with the ceramist Paul Jeanneney who produced the best glaze stoneware of the Art Nouveau period. Rodin’s Balzac, Tête Monumentale is estimated €40.000-60.000 (height 47,5cm).

RodinAimé-Jules Dalou (1838-1902) was the most acclaimed French sculptor of monuments at the end of the 19th century whose works included “Triumph of the Republic” and the monument for Eugène Delacroix, 1890. Rodin and Dalou were friends and in 1883 Rodin made the marvellous bust of the sculptor who was forty-five years old at that time. The bronze bust of Dalou is an exquisite example of Rodin’s way of praising artists: the proud posture is tempered by the thoughtfulness of the downcast eyes. By portrayed him naked, Rodin released him from time and places him in the company of ancient Roman portraits. The present bust was cast between 1910 and 1925 by the Rudier foundry. The magnificent patina gives it an amazing radiation. Rudier personally advised the previous owner to buy the present bust as a fine example of their foundry. Like the head of Balzac on offer from the same collection, it was never exhibited. Rodin’s bust of Dalou is 53 cm high and estimated €30.000-50.000.

Sale: Modern and Contemporary Art Sale date: Tuesday 23 May at 2pm and 7pm, Sotheby’s Amsterdam On view from Friday 19 to Sunday 21 May, daily from 10am to 5pm

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