Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) The Bronze Age,... - Lot 38 - Crait + Müller

Lot 38
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Estimation :
350000 - 400000 EUR
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) The Bronze Age,... - Lot 38 - Crait + Müller
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
The Bronze Age, small model also known as the second reduction
Original plaster created between 1875 and 1877, this version obtained by reduction in November 1904; our proof cast in November 1945
Bronze with brown-black shaded patina Signed "Rodin" on the right of the terrace
Bears the founder's mark "ALEXIS. RUDIER. FONDEUR. PARIS " on the back right and the stamp " A. RODIN " on the inside
Dim. 64,6 x 24,2 x 18,8 cm

Provenance: Rodin Museum, Paris; Private Collection, France; Art Trade, Paris

L'Âge d'Airain is without doubt one of Auguste Rodin's most emblematic works. Through the already mastered art of modeling, the skilful play of light and shadow and the internalized emotion of this work from the beginning of his career, all the genius of the future "Master of Meudon" is already there.

The young practitioner of the famous Albert Carrier-Belleuse (1824-1887), whom he followed to Brussels in 1871, is trying, through this sculpture, to extract himself from the imprint of his mentor and to make his own creations. The original plaster of this male nude was first presented in Brussels in January 1877 before being sent to Paris for the Salon of May 1877 (a Salon in which he participated for only the second time, his marble Man with a Broken Nose in 1875 having not been as well received as hoped). The work, first entitled The Defeated, then The Awakening Man and finally The Bronze Age, caused a real scandal, so singular, so alive, so realistic that the members of the jury accused the artist of having molded it from nature.

In reality, Rodin had transposed the lessons he had learned from the works of the Renaissance and Michelangelo that he had admired during his stay in Florence the previous year, in 1875. The naturalism, vitality, and anatomical precision of L'Âge d'Airain disconcerted the Salon jury and the public, who were accustomed to the academicism that prevailed at the end of the 19th century.

He also masterfully transcribed, in the life-size representation of the Belgian soldier and telegrapher, Au- guste Neyt, the torments of the human soul in echoes of the French rout in the troubled post-Franco-Prussian war context. Through this work, he illustrates more universally the awakening of a young man to the torments of the history that precedes him and the uncertainty of his future.

The scandal of the Salon, which could have ruined his career as an artist before it was even born, pushes him to relax. Helped by Carrier-Belleuse, who witnessed the genesis of the work, he was finally cleared of all suspicion and the work was finally recognized for its exceptional and innovative qualities. The State acquired it for the sum of 300 Francs and ordered a bronze version from Thiébaut-frères in 1880. The masterpiece was placed in the Luxembourg Gardens in 1884.

To our knowledge, the work, in its dimensions (H. 64,4 x W. 24,6 x D. 19 cm), was produced in bronze by Alexis Rudier in seventeen copies: five around 1907 and twelve from 1918 to 1945 (including ours). From 1945 onwards, Georges Rudier published six more copies.
This work will be included in the Catalogue Critique de l'œuvre Sculpté d'Auguste Rodin currently in preparation at the Brame & Lorenceau Gallery under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the number 2018-5872B.

Related literature
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le Bronze, catalog des œuvres conservées au Musée Rodin, RMN, Paris, 2007, pp.121-129.
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