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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
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THE PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED FAMILY COLLECTION, NEW YORK
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

L’un des Bourgeois de Calais: Pierre de Wiessant, vêtu, réduction

Details
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
L’un des Bourgeois de Calais: Pierre de Wiessant, vêtu, réduction
signed 'A. Rodin' (on the top of the base); inscribed with foundry mark 'Alexis.Rudier Fondeur.Paris' (on the back of the base); with raised signature 'A. Rodin' (on the underside)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 17 7/8 in. (45.1 cm.)
Conceived between 1887-1895; this reduction in 1895; this bronze version cast in 1945
Provenance
Musée Rodin, Paris.
Roland, Browse & Delbanco, London (acquired from the above, 1956).
Acquired by the family of the present owner, circa 1960.
Literature
G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1927, p. 52 (plaster version illustrated).
G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, p. 142 (plaster version illustrated, pl. 76).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, pp. 70-85 (other versions illustrated, pp. 71-74 and 84-85).
L. Goldscheider, Rodin Sculptures, London, 1964 (plaster version illustrated, pl. 38).
I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, pp. 97 and 99 (other versions illustrated, pls. 39, 41 and 46-47).
R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, p. 111 (plaster version illustrated; monumental bronze version illustrated, p. 114).
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 376-402 (other versions illustrated, pp. 377-378, 381 and 389-390).
I. Ross and A. Snow, eds., Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession, New York, 2001, pp. 47-63 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 59; other versions illustrated in color, pp. 48, 52 and 54-55).
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. 121-125 (monumental bronze version illustrated, pp. 137-138).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of the Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, pp. 211-216 and 237 (another cast illustrated, p. 237; other versions illustrated, pp. 39, 211 and 215).
Post Lot Text
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 2010-3312B.

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Allegra Bettini
Allegra Bettini Impressionist & Modern Art

Lot essay

“I do not know, in any art, of an evocation of souls so spendidly compelling,” the critic Octave Mirbeau declared in 1889, when Rodin first exhibited Les bourgeois de Calais (quoted in J.L. Tancock, op. cit., 1976, p. 388). The project was his earliest commission for a free-standing, public monument and one of the defining projects of his career. Comprised of six individual figures set on integral bases, the group commemorates the heroism of six citizens of Calais who in 1347, during the Hundred Years’ War, volunteered to surrender themselves to King Edward III of England in exchange for the liberation of their city, which had been besieged for nearly a year. In a radical departure from traditional heroic monuments, Rodin eschewed all allegorical trappings; he instead depicted the moment that the burghers, clad in sackcloth and nooses as King Edward III had demanded, began their painful leave with their suffering agonizingly real.

”I did not group them together in a triumphant apotheosis, for such a glorification of their heroism would not in any way have corresponded to reality,” Rodin explained. “On the contrary, I strung them out one behind the other, because, with the uncertain outcome of the final inner struggle being waged between their devotion to their city and their fear of dying, it is as if each of them has to face their conscience alone. They are still wondering if they will have the strength to make the supreme sacrifice. Their hearts urge them forward and their feet refuse to walk. They drag themselves along with difficulty, due as much to the weakness to which famine has reduced them as to their dread of their execution. And indeed, if I have succeeded in showing how the body, even when exhausted by the cruelest suffering, still clings to life, how it still holds sway over the soul enamored of bravery, I can only congratulate myself for being equal to the noble theme that I had to treat” (quoted in A. Le Normand-Romain, op. cit., 2007, p. 213).

The maquette for this project was delivered to the mayor of Calais in July 1885 and the finished monument inaugurated the town square ten years later, after which Rodin continued to make use of the powerfully expressive statues, producing new bronze casts of individual figures and heads for eager collectors. The present lot features Pierre de Wiessant, one of the six burghers, who joined the group along with his older brother, Jacques de Wiessant. His contorted, nearly contrapposto pose demonstrates his momentary indecision to join the others. “The monument swiftly moved beyond the context of local history to take its place alongside the great works of sculpture,” Le Normand-Romain has written. “By rejecting the descriptive style of conventional public monuments in order to portray what real people felt...Rodin had created one of the masterpieces of a period that focused on man and his inner world” (ibid., p. 214).

Lot Essay Header Image: Present lot illustrated (detail).

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