Auguste Rodin - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Thursday, November 18, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Property from an Important Private Japanese Collection


    Phillips is delighted to offer Property from an Important Private Japanese Collection, comprising six sculptures by Auguste Rodin, Aristide Maillol, and Henry Moore. Acquired from the Contemporary Sculpture Center, Japan, the present works have resided in the same private collection for several decades.


    Rodin redefined monumental sculpture towards the end of the 19th century, establishing a new sculptural idiom which inspired not only his contemporaries and students but future generations alike. The forefather of modern sculpture, Rodin was interested in exploring and capturing individual and very human characteristics in his mythological, allegorical, and veridical subject matters—such is the case in the literary reference to Dante he employed in Les Trois Ombres as well as in Balzac, deuxième étude pour le Nu F and Balzac, étude drapée avec capuchon et un jabot de dentelle, both being in honor of the great French writer of the Comédie humanie, Honoré de Balzac. In both cases, Rodin, a voracious reader, intensely studied the Divine Comedy and Balzac’s literature in preparation for the respective bronzes. Whether real or imaginary, Rodin was attempting, through the works’ physicality, to capture the essence of the work’s source, ultimately to achieve a symbolic representation. The contorted bodies of Les Trois Ombres and staunch forms of the Balzac poignantly capture the human experience and psychologic states of the figures, as is characteristic of Rodin’s approach.

    "Maillol is the equal of the greatest sculptors. What is admirable in Maillol, what is, so to speak eternal, is the purity, the clarity, the limpidity of his workmanship and thought." —Auguste Rodin

    The works of Aristide Maillol reflect Rodin’s deeply rooted influence on modern sculpture. Practicing during a time which celebrated Rodin’s realist approach, Maillol shifted away from the despaired subjects and contorted figures of Rodin, gradually moving toward a more archetypical form of sculpture, epitomized in Torse de l’Eté and Petite Flore nue. Maillol preferred to preserve and purify the classical sculptural tradition of the body, while Rodin emphasized the emotional or psychological undertones. Although Maillol only began creating sculptures around 1895—and they mostly included small clay statuettes—they quickly gained popularity among collectors, one of which was Rodin. Rodin even attended Maillol’s first solo exhibition and reportedly expressed, “Maillol is the equal of the greatest sculptors. What is admirable in Maillol, what is, so to speak eternal, is the purity, the clarity, the limpidity of his workmanship and thought.” 

  • Moore’s Square Head Relief echoes the work of both Rodin and Maillol: while the British sculptor’s exploration of the emotional interiority of humanity and his interest in culling from literature shares an affinity with Rodin’s central concerns, Moore’s work formally coincides with Maillol’s penchant for softened edges and placid presence. Square Head Relief is dynamic, open-aired, and perplexing. His distinctive reduction of the human figure to its most essential elements, which he then abstracted, express deeply profound interpretations of the human state, a characteristic so focal to Rodin’s oeuvre.

    "[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

    These artists’ influence on both post-war art as well as the work of contemporary artists working today is undeniable. The raw physicality and psychological undertone of bronzes by other artists included in our Morning and Afternoon Sales—whether by explicit engagement or chance—are indebted to Rodin’s approach. Francisco Zúñiga is a prime example of a figure embodying the depth of emotion Rodin’s figures do, rendering a woman in a woeful position, capturing the lonely and solemn emotions that accompany human existence. Lynn Chadwick’s idiosyncratic subjects, such as Sitting Figure I and II, are sensual and expressive even while rendered in rough edges or lines. Augustín Cárdenas’ flowing, efficient, and whimsical hand, evident in Totem, places him as natural successor of Henry Moore. On the other hand, Tony Cragg’s Two Moods embodies the psychological tone imbued in Rodin’s works. Even Yayoi Kusama’s Bronze Shoes takes on an allegorical quality like that of Rodin’s, hers harkening back to the tale of Cinderella and her storied glass slippers, perhaps intentionally rendered in the physically and historically weighty medium of bronze. From Zúñiga to Cragg, 20th and 21st century artists have looked to Rodin, Maillol, and Moore for both subject matter and manner of approach. 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. 


    Lost Wax Bronze Casting


    Conceived and executed between 1886 and 1981, the Rodins and Maillols 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

      Musée Rodin, Paris
      Contemporary Sculpture Center, Tokyo (acquired from the above in April 1975)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      London, Hayward Gallery, Rodin, January 24–April 5, 1970, no. 56, p. 63 (another cast exhibited and illustrated)
      Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art; Kumamoto, Prefectoral Museum of Art; Hiroshima, Prefectoral Museum of Art; Kitakyushu, Municipal Museum; Morioka, Prefectoral Culture Center and Kobe, Hyogo Prefectoral Museum of Art, Rodin au Japon, July 24, 1976–January 30, 1977
      Marcq-en-Baroeuil, Fondation Anne et Albert Prouvost, Auguste Rodin (1840–1917): Sculptures et Dessins, 1977, n.p. (another cast exhibited)
      Takaoka City Museum; Fukui Prefectural Museum; Tokyo, Setbu Museum; Yamanashi Prefectural Museum, Asahikawa City Cultural Center; Iwaki City Cultural Center; Nagasaki, Juhachi Bank Special Museum, Rodin au Japon, April 27–November 11, 1979
      Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Rodin Rediscovered, June 28, 1981–May 2, 1982, fig. 5.19, no. 144, pp. 144, 324 (another cast exhibited and illustrated, p. 114)
      New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rodin: The B. Gerald Cantor Collection, April 19–June 15, 1986, no. 37, pp. 84–85, 166 (another cast exhibited and illustrated p. 85)
      Palais des Beaux-Arts de Charleroi, Rodin: et la Belgique, September 7–December 14, 1997, no. VII.2, pp. 181, 298 (another cast exhibited and illustrated, p. 181)
      Tokyo, Takashimaya Art Gallery; Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art; Nagoya, Matsuzakaya Art Museum; Daimaru Museum, Umeda-Osaka, Auguste Rodin from the Cantor Collection of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, September 4, 2002–April 6, 2003

    • Literature

      John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, no. 72–76–7, pp. 436–437 (another cast illustrated, p. 437)
      1898: le Balzac de Rodin, exh. cat., Musée Rodin, Paris, 1998, fig. 141, p. 342 (another cast illustrated)
      Albert E. Elsen and Rosalyn Frankel Jamison, Rodin’s Art: The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, fig. 344, no. 110, p. 405–406 (another cast illustrated)
      Antoinette Le Norman-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 2007, no. S.1080, pp. 176 (another example illustrated)

Property from an Important Japanese Private Collection


Balzac, étude de nu type F dite aussi 'étude en athlète'

incised with the artist's signature and number "A Rodin N° 4" left of figure's proper left foot; incised with the artist's signature "A. Rodin" on the underside; stamped with the foundry mark ".Georges Rudier. / .Fondeur.Paris." back right of base; incised with the inscription and date "© by.musée Rodin.1971" lower right of right side of base
36 7/8 x 16 x 14 3/8 in. (93.7 x 40.6 x 36.5 cm)
Conceived in 1896 and cast in bronze in April 1971, this work is number 4 from an edition of approximately 12 made for the Musée Rodin, Paris, between 1967 and 1995, and one of 10 that was cast by Georges Rudier Fondeur, Paris, between 1967 and 1982. 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 no. 2021-6487B.

Other casts from this edition are held in the permanent collections of the Stanford University, Cantor Arts Center, Palo Alto (1/8); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2/8); Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York (7/8); Region Art Gallery, Newcastle (8/8); and Musée Rodin, Paris (0/8).

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $75,600

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 18 November 2021