• Impressionist Modern Day Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 2217

    Impressionist Modern Day Sale

    4 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 223

    Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

    Masque d'Hanako, étude type E

    Price Realised  


    Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
    Masque d'Hanako, étude type E
    signed 'A. Rodin' (on the left side); with raised signature 'A. Rodin' (on the reverse)
    bronze with green patina
    Height: 7 in. (17.8 cm.)
    Conceived in 1907-1908; this bronze version cast by the Alexis Rudier Foundry in 1910-1920

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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 Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2005-768B.

    As a sculptor Rodin was interested in movement and therefore dance was an exciting subject for him. During the early 1900s dancers such as Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller and Vaslav Nijinsky were popular in France, and in 1906 Rodin saw the Japanese dancer Hanako when she performed in a tragedy that ends with the heroine's death. The sculptor found her performance fascinating: "Her face became immovable, as if petrified, but her eyes continued to reveal intense animation," he later recalled. Rodin studied Hanako more intensely than any of his other female subjects, and in addition to the many drawings he made of her he created a series of sculptures which together form a serial portrait. In these heads and masks he captured her in different psychological states of being, with expressions of tortured anguish and cold rage, or as we see in the present work, meditative calm.

    Masque d'Hanako, étude type E is a radical departure from other works in the series. As Antoinette Le Normand-Romain has noted: "The subtle and pared-down Type E introduces another vision of Hanako, a much serener view in contrast with the previous masks. The actress claimed that Rodin modeled this version while they were out walking together, after noticing her pensive expression. Unlike the other versions this mask was soon put on the market, [and] in 1910 the French state purchased a bronze of it for the Musée du Luxembourg" (op. cit., vol. 2, p. 407). This particular version of Hanako was the one that Hanako herself owned, having been given a bronze cast of it after Rodin's death in fulfillment of a promise he made to her. Rodin himself also gave a cast of this work to the Queen of Sweden in 1912.

    The present cast has a patina very much like the one Rodin ordered for Hanako with a luminous emerald green coloration, very clear and bright with a deep impasto. It differs markedly from the 1930s to 1950s casts which have a black and brown patina typical of later casts. Rodin himself favored this deep green coloration, characteristic of the early Rudier casts, which he used for one of his beloved Torse de femme and his Grosse Tête d'Iris now at the Musée Rodin. It is also the same patina that appears on the Masque d'Hanako, étude type E in the Musée Rodin and the cast that Rodin gave to the Queen of Sweden.


    Berthelot collection, Paris (acquired circa 1920).
    Private dealer, Paris (acquired from the family of the above).
    Private collection, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above, 2005).
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, p. 111.
    L. Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1970, p. 125 (another cast illustrated, pl. 84).
    J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 550, no. 97, 98-2 (another cast illustrated, p. 551).
    A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. II, pp. 406-407, no. S. 564 (another cast illustrated, p. 406).


    Paris, Galerie Brame et Lorenceau, Rodin Sculptures, Dessins et photographies, January-February, 2006, pp. 148-149, no. 38 (illustrated).