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    Sale 12071

    Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

    13 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1270

    Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

    Eternel printemps, premier état, taille originale–variante type C

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    Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
    Eternel printemps, premier état, taille originale–variante type C
    signed 'A. Rodin' (on the right side); inscribed and dated '© by Musée Rodin 1955' (on the right side of the base); inscribed with foundry mark '.Georges Rudier. .Fondeur. Paris.' (on the back of the base); with raised signature 'A. Rodin' (on the underside)
    bronze with dark brown patina
    Height: 24 7/8 in. (63.2 cm.)
    Length: 29 in. (73.5 cm.)
    Conceived circa 1884; this bronze version cast in 1955


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    This work will be included in the forthcoming Auguste Rodin catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2015-4786B.

    L'éternel printemps is one of Rodin's most popular compositions and one of the sculptor's greatest commercial successes. Also titled Zéphyr et la Terre and Cupidon et Psyché (there are small Cupid's wings on the back of the male figure), it was exhibited at the Salon of 1897. It was originally intended as a figural grouping for La porte de l'enfer, but as the tone of the commission evolved into a more tragic representation, the amorous couple was not included in the final version. As with many of his great figural groupings, Rodin developed the characters from earlier works. The female figure is based on Torse d'Adèle, which appears on the top left corner of the tympanum of La porte de l'enfer.
    Although excluded from La porte de l'enfer, L'éternel printemps took on a vibrant life as an independent sculpture. The present bronze was cast by the Georges Rudier foundry and represents the first state of this composition. Though the couple retains the same pose in the second state, the work also features a rocky support under the male figure's extended left arm and a larger base; this greater sense of context lends the work a vaguely mythical or allegorical character. John Tancock has compared the two separate states: "In what must be the first version of this work, the outstretched arm and the overhanging leg of the male figure and the apparent instability of the encounter of the two figures recall Rodin's contemporary experiments with the Gates of Hell... In purely sculptural terms the first version is superior to the second since the freely floating arm and leg give to it an élan that the second bronze version does not have" (quoted in The Bronzes of Rodin, exh. cat., Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, p. 246).
    The present work may reflect the emotional impact of Rodin's personal life, as he sculpted the blissful embrace while involved in an affair with the beautiful sculptor, Camille Claudel, who had entered his studio as a pupil the previous year. This new wellspring of romantic passion may have further induced Rodin to abandon the politesse of allegorical convention and instead depict romantic love in deeply intimate, individual terms. Rodin also claimed that the idea for the present bronze came to him while listening to Beethoven's sublime Second Symphony. He confided much later to Jeanne Russell, the daughter of the Australian painter John Russell: "God, how [Beethoven] must have suffered to write that! And yet, it was while listening to it for the first time that I pictured Eternal Springtime, just as I have modeled it since" (ibid., p. 336).
    Animated by the dazzling play of light on the surface and the sweeping upward movement of the man, the couple seems ready to take flight. The dynamic arrangement of the bodies is characteristic of Rodin's innovative treatment of figures at this time. The female figure is leaning against the tree-like formation behind her and Rodin deliberately preserves the enigma of whether or not she has indeed emerged from it. It is unsurprising that collectors have always been attracted to the potent combination of physical lyricism and romanticism that defines this work.

    Provenance

    Musée Rodin, Paris.
    M. Planes, Paris (acquired from the above, December 1955).
    World House Galleries (Herbert Mayer), New York (acquired from the above, December 1955).
    Claude Marumo, Paris.
    Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 10 November 1987, lot 7.
    Gallery Umeda, Osaka (acquired at the above sale).
    Private collection, Japan.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    Literature

    G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, p. 42, no. 69 (another cast illustrated).
    R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, p. 135 (another cast illustrated, p. 134).
    J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 241 and 244-245, no. 32a (plaster version illustrated, p. 242).
    A.E. Elsen, In Rodin's Studio, A Photographic Record of Sculpture in the Making, New York, 1980, pp. 14, 28-29 and 171 (clay version illustrated, pl. 48).
    D. Finn and M. Busco, Rodin and His Contemporaries, The Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Collection, New York, 1991, p. 238 (another cast illustrated, p. 227).
    A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, pp. 494-496 (another cast illustrated, fig. 414).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, pp. 331-332 and 335-337, (other versions illustrated).


    Exhibited

    New York, World House Galleries (Herbert Mayer), Four Masters Exhibition, March-April 1957, no. 2.