Auguste Rodin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Phillips is delighted to offer Property from an Important Private Japanese Collection, comprising seven sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Antoine Bourdelle, and Henry Moore. Acquired from the Contemporary Sculpture Center, Japan the present works have resided in the same private collection for over forty years.


    Rodin redefined monumental sculpture towards the end of the 19th century, creating a new sculptural language which inspired not only his contemporaries and students but the future generation alike. The forerunner to modern sculpture, Rodin was interested in exploring and capturing individual and very human characteristics in his mythological and allegorical subject matters—such is the case in the biblical imagery he employed in Étude pour Adam au pilier and Étude pour Eve au pilier. The anxiety about the human state and individual experience so characteristic of his approach is poignantly apparent in his Cariatide à l’Urne, taille originale dite aussi petit modèle and Main crispée gauche avec figure implorante, the contorted forms of which accentuate movement and dynamism.


    At the start of his career, Antoine Bourdelle shared Rodin’s interest in infusing realism with mythical and archetypal figures, while still foregrounding individual expressionism. Between 1893 and 1908 he was a pupil and assistant at the studio of Rodin, who was a great admirer of his student’s innovative monumental sculpture. Cheval avec grand soubassement, étude pour le Monument au général Alvear is the perfect example of the rough surfaces of Bourdelle's sculptures which were influenced by Rodin, and his use of flat, simplified forms which were drawn from archaic Greek and Roman antiquity.

  • Property from an Important Private Japanese Collection:

  • Moore’s Working Model for Animal Form echoes the work of both Rodin and Bourdelle: while the British sculptor’s exploration of the emotional interiority of humanity—both in relationships with others and isolated—shares an affinity with Rodin’s central concerns, Moore’s interest in antiquity and Greek mythology evokes that of Bourdelle. Working Model for Animal Form is rhythmic, dynamic, and betrays a profound understanding of the human state—characteristics that are so focal to his predecessors’ oeuvres.

    "[I realize] that a lot of things one might be using and being influenced by are, compared with Rodin, altogether too easy. So that as time has gone on, my admiration for Rodin has grown and grown."
    —Henry Moore

    The French modernists’ influence on both post-war art as well as the work of contemporary artists working today cannot be overstated. The raw physicality of the bronzes of other artists included in our Evening and Day Sales, such Louise Bourgeois and Willem de Kooning—with all their psychological and emotion connotations—are indebted to Rodin’s approach. Even more conspicuously, Bourdelle’s chevaux anticipated Deborah Butterfield’s steel and bronze horses and Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War. From Jeff Koons’s Gazing Ball (Demeter) to Lynn Chadwick’s bronze couples to Jim Dine’s mythological figures, 20th and 21st century artists have looked to Rodin and Bourdelle for both subject matter and execution style. Even Vase Saigon “Les Limbes et les Syrènes” foreshadows post-war artists’ exploration in the design realm, such as Keith Haring’s Writing Table and Frank Gehry’s Fish Lamp. Whether they were reinforcing his influence or responding to it, in their own way, each of these artists continued the legacy of Rodin in redefining the modern language for sculpture.


    [left] Lot 348, Kehinde Wiley, Rumors of War, 2019. [right] Lot 134, Willem de Kooning, Untitled #4, 1969.


    Lost Wax Bronze Casting


    Conceived and executed between 1895 and 1979, the Rodins and Bourdelle in this superb grouping celebrate the technique and merit of bronze lost wax casting, successfully reexamining the importance of posthumous casting and the preservation of the artists’ legacy.


    The view some may associate with posthumous casts is conditioned by a specific historical ideology that dates to the 19th and 20th centuries that prioritized notions of “originality” and “authenticity.” This is based on a misunderstanding of the process of creating a bronze sculpture, which entails the creation of a model that needs to be copied and cast, a process which the artist did not always oversee as closely as many imagine. Rodin was one of the first who took a forward-thinking approach to the “original” and the value of multiples that would go on to inform many outstanding artists of the 20th century. These later casts should be viewed together with sculpture that was being made during the last 70 years to illustrate the enduring influence and relevance of Rodin’s approach not only to the human form but to the way we perceive art today.  As attitudes change, some artists have recently seen an increase in prices for posthumous works, because as these artists remind us: what really counts is the mind, not the hand.


    • Provenance

      Manufacture, Nationale, Sèvres
      Private Collection, France
      Takashimaya Department Store, Japan
      Contemporary Sculpture Center, Tokyo (acquired from the above in 1977)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Hayward Gallery, Rodin, Sculpture & Drawings, November 1, 1986–January 25, 1987, no. 25, figs. 48a, 29b, 149, p. 196 (another example exhibited and illustrated, pp. 28, 84; titled as Vase de Saigon)

    • Literature

      Roger Marx, Auguste Rodin, Céramiste, Paris, 1907, pl. XVII, n.p. (detail of another example illustrated; titled Les Limbes et les Syrènes)
      Robert Descharnes & Jean-François Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, New York, 1967, p. 65 (another example illustrated; titled Saigon)
      Cécile Goldscheider, Auguste Rodin, Catalogue Raisonné de l'oeuvre sculpté, tome I: 1840–1886, Paris, 1989, no. 112k, pp. 146–147 (another example illustrated; titled Les Limbes)

Property from an Important Japanese Private Collection


Vase Saigon "Les Limbes et les Syrènes"

incised with the artist's signature "Rodin" on the lower part of the vase; indistinctly incised "HE [...] PN.1.33" and stamped with the foundry mark "SEVRES MANUFACTURE NATIONALE FRANCE g" on the underside
Sèvres porcelain
9 3/4 x 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 in. (24.8 x 13.3 x 13.3 cm)
Conceived circa 1891–1892 and executed in 1933–1934, this work is from an unnumbered edition of approximately 6 produced by the Manufacture de Sèvres. This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Critique de l’Oeuvre Sculpté d’Auguste Rodin currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive no. 2021-6359B.

Other examples from this edition are held in the permanent collections of the Musée des Beaux Arts d'Agen; Musée Rodin, Paris; and Nishiyama Museum, Tokyo.

Full Cataloguing

$8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for $10,080

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 24 June 2021