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Title: Auguste Rodin - The Man - His Ideas - His Work
Author: Mauclair, Camille
Language: English
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AUGUSTE RODIN

THE MAN--HIS IDEAS--HIS WORKS

BY

CAMILLE MAUCLAIR

AUTHOR OF

"THE GREAT FRENCH PAINTERS AND THE EVOLUTION OF FRENCH PAINTING FROM 1830"
"THE FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS," ETC.

TRANSLATED BY

CLEMENTINA BLACK

WITH FORTY PLATES

NEW YORK

E. P. DUTTON & CO.

1905



TO

EUGÈNE CARRIÈRE

AND

ROGER MARX



    MY DEAR FRIENDS,

    One of you is a great painter, whose art and mind are
    fraternally akin to Rodin's. The other is the first French
    Art critic of our day, and has nobly defended Rodin from the
    outset.

    For these reasons I felt it just and natural to dedicate
    this book to both of you, as a testimony of my affection,
    given in the presence of the English public, and under the
    auspices of a name that unites all three of us in the love
    of beauty.
                                                          C. M.



The photographs used as illustrations to the present volume are kindly
lent by M. Buloz, art publisher of Paris, to whom we offer our sincere
thanks; and for five of them--very remarkable in their effect (the
_Bellona,_ the bust of _Hugo_, the two studies of torsos for the _St.
John the Baptist,_ and the _Fair Woman who was a Helmet-maker_) we are
indebted to Messrs. Haweis and Coles, to whom we are no less grateful.
The very faithful portrait of M. Rodin is the work of M. Eckert, of
Prague.



PREFACE


Auguste Rodin is certainly the contemporary French artist about whom
most has been written, especially during the last ten years. In
addition to innumerable articles in newspapers and reviews, several
books have been devoted to him. In offering the present work to the
English public I think it desirable to define exactly the aim which I
propose to myself. To begin with, as my limits of size are somewhat
narrow, I shall endeavour to condense into a restricted space as many
interesting details as I can give, and to neglect nothing that may
contribute to a clear and precise presentment of Rodin's personality
and work. But such details have already been collected in some French
works; and if I were to content myself with presenting a new version of
them to the public I should have fulfilled but half of my task and my
duty.

The other half interests me far more keenly. It seems to me that
after having told the reader all that he ought to know about a man, a
critic should then try to make a closer and deeper study of him--come
into contact with his ideas and his soul, form an original judgment of
him, and in short pass from the iconographie or biographic side to the
artistic and psychological side of his work. I have tried, therefore,
to begin where my fellow-workers have left off and to say exactly what
they do not appear to me to have said.

The things written about Rodin have been mainly literary compositions,
admiring and lyrical passages, to which his favourite subjects have
served as texts. Much less has been heard about his personal ideas upon
the technical principles of sculpture, or about his methods of work.
The reason of this is primarily a fear of fatiguing the public, to
whom the technicalities of an art--which involve dry explanations--are
less interesting than the results. Moreover, it must be owned that
few writers understand these questions. In painting, as in sculpture,
persons who do not practise these arts, or who are not sufficiently
familiar with the brush and the chisel to understand the secrets of
works of art, even if not to produce them, generally prefer to avoid
these dangerous aspects and keep to literary eulogy. A work is
proclaimed great, and the reader is adjured to believe it so, but it is
infinitely more difficult to give him a clear, technical explanation of
why that work is great. Towards that quarter, therefore, I have chosen
to turn, expecting to find there things to say that cannot be read
elsewhere.

Rodin has not merely created beautiful statues. He is an innovator, (or
rather a renovator), in his methods of sculpture, and that fact has
called down severe criticism on his head. A long-standing friendship,
which I reckon as an honour, has allowed me to have numerous
conversations with him upon the very basis of his art, upon the manner
in which he practises it, and upon his ideas in relation to his own
work and to ancient and modern sculpture. To these ideas the synthetic
mind of Rodin imparts so much vigour that they are the motives of his
work and cannot be separated from it. My desire has been to present
them; and instead of giving the public my own opinions, in passages of
more or less brilliancy, I wished to give those--so infinitely more
interesting--which have been uttered by the artist himself. Often,
in the course of this book, I shall be merely the transcriber while
he speaks, and I think my readers will be grateful to me for that.
Furthermore, in regard to technical points and to the way in which
Rodin conceives composition and modelling, I may--and even, in order to
inspire a just and necessary confidence, I should--say that when Rodin
exhibited his _Balzac_ his first innovation in his present manner, he
had so much faith in my friendship and in my critical powers that he
entrusted to me the duty of explaining these delicate points in the
French reviews,[1] and in a later lecture given at the Paris Exhibition
of 1900, in the pavilion where he was exhibiting the whole of his
works. These explanations, in their main lines, I have rewritten here.
In that portion I have endeavoured to do original critical work, after
having satisfied the biographical demands of the reader. I have avoided
discussions of too abstract an æstheticism; I believe that everything
can be said simply and in simple forms; I believe also that even in the
most subtle questions of art there is an inner light that renders them
accessible to all whose minds are sincere, and whose hearts are open to
emotion. But I hope that, in reading this book, people will understand
very exactly why a statue by Rodin is different from any other statue,
and why he made it so--a matter which too few writers have explained.
It is not so much my business to display abundantly the admiration
which I feel, but which, no more than my friendship, shall induce me to
turn my essay into a hymn of praise.

Rodin himself is the first man to be wearied by some praises, and a
just observation upon his methods gives him much more pleasure. Like
every man of high intelligence, he would rather be understood than
praised.

I believe myself to be filling a gap and satisfying a wish by giving
at the end of this volume some remarks upon the artists whom Rodin has
influenced. He is commonly treated as "a force of nature"; "an isolated
phenomenon"; people affect to consider him as a sort of immense
unconscious producer. These are absurd hyperboles. Rodin is a man of
strong will, logical, and conscious of what he is doing, and strongly
linked to the Greeks and to the Gothic school; he has very definite
theories, and several sculptors, of whom Rodin's extreme admirers do
not speak, preferring to leave their divinity alone in the clouds, draw
their inspiration from his views. I shall name some men to whom Rodin
is much attached and in whose work he takes pleasure in following the
development of his principles, for he knows what he wishes, whence
he comes and whither he goes, and has a horror of being thought a
visionary--a phenomenon, as people say in their indiscreet zeal; on the
contrary, he holds himself to be a real classical artist, whose example
cannot possibly be harmful. I have thought it well, also, to conclude
by a summary of the principal works or essays dealing with Rodin, at
least in France; and by a chronological list of his statues--that is to
say, of course, an approximate list, for many fragments of this great
mass of work have been destroyed by Rodin himself, especially in the
earlier part of his career, before 1877. No such list has ever been
made, and it may add to the interest of the present volume; I give
it under the artist's authorisation, for I made it in his house and
according to his advice.

It is bad to repeat oneself. Yet I am anxious to say once more--and my
insistence will be understood--that my long friendship and personal
admiration for Auguste Rodin and my gratitude for the affectionate
regard that he shows me count for nothing here. A study is asked
of me, not a panegyric. When I have reckoned up the vast quantity
of work, the maker's life, theories, talks, doings, and influence,
very little room will be left for compliments. It will be for the
reader to think them. Many people who would have had a difficulty
in talking of sculpture have found Rodin a convenient subject for
literary declamations--too many for me to wish to imitate them. Such a
course would be pleasing neither to the artist nor to the public, and
would content them no more than it would content me. Precise details
about the man, the work, and the iconography; clear explanations of
technicalities and ideas--these form all my ambition. The statement of
facts will be enough to arouse love and admiration for Rodin; louder
than all praises and with a stronger claim speaks the work of thirty
years.

                                                                C. M.


[1] "The Art of Rodin," _Revue des Revues,_ Paris, 15th June, 1898; and
lecture, 31st July, 1900.



CONTENTS


PREFACE

I. YOUTH AND EARLY WORK OF RODIN--HIS FIRST ATTEMPTS; HIS TIME AT
CARRIER'S--HIS STAY IN BRUSSELS AND WORK THERE--"THE AGE OF BRASS" AT
THE SALON OF 1877; THE INCIDENT ARISING IN REGARD TO IT--THE "ST. JOHN
THE BAPTIST"; BEGINNING OF RODIN'S REPUTATION

II. RODIN'S STUDIO--HIS WORKS FROM 1880 TO 1889--"EVE"; SOME BUSTS;
THE MONUMENT TO VICTOR HUGO--"THE GATE OF HELL"--"THE DANAID"--THE
"THOUGHT"--THE EXHIBITION OF CLAUDE MONET AND RODIN, IN 1889--THE
MONUMENT TO CLAUDE LORRAINE AT NANCY (1892)--"THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS"
(1888-1895)

III. RODIN'S WORK FROM 1895 TO 1898--SMALL GROUPS--THE STATUE OF
"BALZAC"--THE INCIDENT OF THE SOCIÉTÉ DES GENS DE LETTRES--THE
"TECHNIQUE" OF THE "BALZAC"--RODIN'S IDEAS UPON MODELLING AND
COMPOSITION--HIS OPINIONS ABOUT THE GREEKS, THE GOTHIC STYLE,
CLASSICISM, AND MYTHOLOGICAL SUBJECTS--RODIN'S "ANTIQUE" PERIOD

IV. WORKS SINCE THE "BALZAC"--SMALL WORKS IN MARBLE--PLAN OF THE
MONUMENT TO LABOUR--DRAWINGS AND ETCHINGS

V. RODIN'S PRIVATE LIFE--HIS PERSON, STUDIO, AND HOME--HIS INFLUENCE;
SCULPTORS INSPIRED BY HIS IDEAS--RODIN'S PLACE IN THE FRENCH
SCHOOL--HIS PRESENT POSITION IN RESPECT TO ACADEMIC SCULPTURE

VI. APPENDIX--CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF RODIN'S PRINCIPAL WORKS--LIST
OF THE PRINCIPAL BOOKS OR ARTICLES WRITTEN ABOUT HIM--QUOTATIONS
REFERRING TO HIM--AN OPINION OF EUGÈNE CARRIÈRE'S; AN OPINION OF
HENLEY'S--VARIOUS NOTES

INDEX 141


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

    ETERNAL SPRING (photogravure) _Frontispiece_
    THE AGE OF  BRASS
    THE AGE OF  BRASS
    ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PREACHING
    EVE
    SKETCH FOR THE MONUMENT TO THE DEFENDERS OF THE NATION
    UGOLINO AND HIS CHILDREN
    BELLONA
    BELLONA
    VICTOR HUGO (dry-point)
    VICTOR HUGO (dry-point)
    BUST OF VICTOR HUGO
    MONUMENT TO VICTOR HUGO (fragment)
    VICTOR HUGO (fragment)
    NEREIDS (group at base of the Victor Hugo monument)
    SHADES (for the top of _The Gate of Hell_)
    THE THINKER
    DANAID
    DANAID
    THOUGHT
    THE FAIR HELMET-MAKER
    A NYMPH (bronze)
    PUVIS DE CHAVANNES
    JEAN PAUL LAURENS
    BUST OF MADAME V.
    THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS
    A BURGHER  OF CALAIS
    A BURGHER  OF CALAIS
    A BURGHER  OF CALAIS
    BALZAC
    BALZAC
    PRIMITIVE MAN
    YOUNG WOMAN BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL COUNSEL
    IRIS
    NUDE STUDY
    AUGUSTE RODIN
    CORNER OF RODIN'S STUDIO  AT  MEUDON
    CORNER OF RODIN'S STUDIO  AT  MEUDON
    STUDY IN BRONZE FOR THE "BALZAC"
    NUDE FIGURE (photographed in the open air, at twilight,
       in the garden in Meudon)



AUGUSTE RODIN



I


YOUTH AND EARLY WORK OF RODIN--HIS FIRST ATTEMPTS; HIS TIME AT
CARRIER'S--HIS STAY IN BRUSSELS AND WORK THERE--"THE AGE OF BRASS" AT
THE SALON OF 1877; THE INCIDENT ARISING IN REGARD TO IT--THE "ST. JOHN
THE BAPTIST"; BEGINNING OF RODIN'S REPUTATION


Auguste Rodin was born in Paris, in the Val de Grâce quarter, on the
14th of November, 1840, of a family of humble employés. The child
at first attended a day-school in the Rue Saint Jacques, then went
to a boarding-school at Beauvais, kept by his uncle. At fourteen he
returned to Paris and entered the school of art in the Rue de l'École
de Médecine. A period of desperate industry at once set in for him.

In addition to the lessons of this little school, where from eight
to twelve young Rodin learned the elements of drawing, and later on
of modelling, copied drawings in crayons and reliefs in the Louis
XVI. style, he went twice a week to Barye's classes at the Jardin
des Plantes; "Barye," he says, "did not teach us much; he was always
worried and tired when he came, and always told us that it was very
good." But Rodin, together with Barye's son and some other lads, had
arranged a sort of studio for themselves in a cellar of the museum,
making seats of tree-trunks, and already attempting sculpture. At
six in the morning he used to go to draw animals, then he copied the
anatomical objects in the Museum. He remembers that, being too poor to
buy an anatomy of the horse, he copied it piece by piece. After Barye's
class, or the classes of the Rue de l'École de Médecine, he would lunch
on a bit of bread and some chocolate and hasten to the Louvre, and
in the evenings he would go to draw and study at the Gobelins. Then
he worked for a maker of ornaments, since it was necessary to earn a
living. From fourteen to seventeen years old Rodin led this fevered
existence. "In those three years," he has often repeated to me, "I came
to understand the meaning of a drawing from the life, the synthesis of
my art, and the rhythm of animals. I remember that a companion of those
days,[1] of whom I have since lost sight, made me see, in a couple
of hours, on a very true and simple principle, an observation of the
necessary equilibria of movement not taught in the schools, the secret
of the plans of a figure. That lesson has influenced my whole life. As
for the ornament-maker, in whose workshop I earned a scanty wage, I
long deplored being constrained to do so, but I have since thought with
affection of it, understanding that there are as many sources of beauty
in ornament as in the face."

His work at the ornament-maker's allowed Rodin to earn his living as an
art-worker and as a strenuous and silent student; and he vegetated in
this manner until he attained his twenty-fourth year, never ceasing,
in spite of his poverty and of his daily labour, to work at sculpture.
Then he offered himself as an assistant and pupil at the studio of
Carrier-Belleuse. Carrier-Belleuse was then at the full height of his
reputation as an elegant sculptor, whose real gifts of spontaneous
invention were being rendered insipid by his desire to please. Rodin
remained six years at Carrier-Belleuse's, and worked there without
gaining much instruction. But he meditated and taught himself. From his
twenty-fourth year dates the head known as _The Man with the Broken
Nose_, which is a masterly work, strongly inspired by the antique,
and already foreshadowing all his future. This clay head, which the
young man sent to the Salon of 1864, was refused. From time to time
Rodin tried to compete for admission to the École des Beaux Arts; he
was thrice refused. This disgusted him with the usual career upon which
his lack of any income invited him to enter. His ideas, his independent
temper, his presentiments, and his love of an art personal to himself,
showed him that he would never gain anything, and never have the
academic discipline necessary to succeed. He took advantage of an
opportunity. Carrier-Belleuse had a commission at Brussels and did not
care to execute it; Rodin got permission from his master, who esteemed
him, to undertake it in his name, and, after having spent six years
in the fashionable sculptor's studio, he went to Brussels, where Rude
had already spent a considerable time. He was destined to remain there
until 1877, working with the Belgian sculptor, Van Rasbourg, at the
pediment of the Bourse, where his sign manual may still be seen, as it
may upon some caryatids of a house on the Boulevard d'Anspach and upon
some other works.

Of this exile at Brussels we know that the artist retains only kindly
memories, but he is too sparing of personal details to enable us to
analyse with any certainty this part of the life of a tenacious,
concentrated man who, entirely occupied with his dreams, with
indefatigable study, the anxieties of poverty, and his lonely pride,
had no desire to be known.

"I worked very hard over there," he says, to sum up the matter. It
is certain that Rodin was at this time already in possession of
that formidable will which led to his success, and also of that
disdainful obstinacy which prefers obscurity and lack of success to
any compromise. He speaks little or not at all of the drama that was
being worked out in him at this time, or of the way in which he refined
and cultivated his perceptions, nor of the painting lessons that he
took of Lecoq de Boisbaudron, in company of Alphonse Legros, who
became his intimate friend; but this influence of Lecoq de Boisbaudron
must not pass unnoted. It does great honour to that master teacher
who has formed so many eminent modern artists. His seven years' stay
at Brussels allowed Rodin to live modestly but decently, amid quiet
surroundings, to reflect, and to shape himself intellectually; it was a
sort of spiritual retreat that did him good, apart from the fact that
he gained a thorough knowledge of the Flemish Primitives and of the
Gothic masters who were so strongly to influence him. No biography,
however, could render comprehensible the way in which, for example, the
brain of a low-born and poor child was able, amid poverty and incessant
manual labour, to grow into the wide and deep brain of a thinker
familiar with the synthesis of art; these things are the secrets of
personality.

[Illustration: THE AGE OF BRASS]

Rodin was destined to emerge suddenly from obscurity at the age of
thirty-seven, that is to say, at a time of life when many men think
themselves hopelessly sacrificed, and when he had already produced
much and suffered much; for it may be said that the whole of his work
from 1855-75 is unknown and lost, and yet what labour it represents!
Except _The Man with the Broken Nose_, none of it is ever mentioned;
the pediment of the Bourse at Brussels is crumbling away, time is
devouring Rodin's work upon it no less than Van Rasbourg's; he will not
speak of the many figures that he made to the order of Carrier-Belleuse
and interpreted according to his own free inspiration; and he only
occasionally alludes to a large figure that was broken in a household
removal, and was, in his opinion, one of the best he ever made in his
life. In 1876 _The Man with the Broken Nose,_ in marble, was admitted
to the Salon. This determined Rodin in 1877 to send in his statue, _The
Age of Brass,_ and this gave rise to an incident, the very injustice of
which was to bring him into notice.

The jury,[2] astonished by this work, admitted it, but accused the
artist of having taken a cast from life, so perfect was the modelling.
The practice of taking a cast from the life is unhappily frequent,
and we know he praised academicians who employ this artistic fraud
without any scruple. Rodin protested. He had had a Belgian soldier for
his model in Brussels: he had photographs taken of him and sent them
to the jury, who did not even open the packet, and persisted in the
allegations. Three sculptors, however, Desbois, Fagel, and Lefèvre, who
thenceforward became Rodin's friends, protested in his favour, some
critics spoke of the affair, and Rodin's work made so much impression
that the secretary of the Fine Arts, Turquet, bought _The Age of Brass_
(which stood for a long time in the Luxembourg Gardens and is now in
the museum).

Rodin waited until 1880 to exhibit _St. John the Baptist_. Meanwhile
Turquet had conceived a friendship for him and wished to wipe out the
unjust accusation brought against _The Age of Brass._ The inspectors
of the Fine Arts department disowned the purchase of that work and
declared it cast from life. Rodin, discouraged, remained silent; a
chance saved him. As he was continuing to look for work in order to
support his young wife and himself, and to defray the expenses of his
art, he chanced to be executing a group of children in a composition
for the sculptor Boucher. His facility was prodigious; Boucher saw
him improvise the group in a few hours and went, thunderstruck, to
tell some of his friends. He had the honesty to declare that such
a man, having done thus before his own eyes, was capable of making
_The Age of Brass._ Chapu, Thomas, Falguière, Delaplanche, Chaplin,
Carrier-Belleuse, and Paul Dubois insisted loyally, and Rodin's cause
was won. Turquet, delighted, and free to act, bought the _St. John the
Baptist_ and gave Rodin a commission. Then the artist answered: "I
am ready to fulfil it. But to prove surely that I do not take casts
from the life I will make little bas-reliefs--an immense work with
small figures, and I think of taking the subject from Dante." This
was the origin of that celebrated _Gate of Hell_, which is not yet
completed, and which, continually handled afresh, has finally become
the central motive of all Rodin's dreams, the storehouse of his ideas
and researches.

[Illustration: THE AGE OF BRASS]

From that time forward (1880) Rodin was what he is to-day; he had
emerged, once for all, from obscurity, and went on to display without
interruption and without hesitation the succession of works that have
rendered him celebrated. He knew his path, his method, his field of
thought. From the age of sixteen to that of forty he had, by unknown
persistent labour, been ripening his individuality. And his work,
from _The Age of Brass_ to the _Balzac_, is but a visible development
of that hidden period. The period from the _Balzac_ to our own day
testifies to a new theory that he has framed. But one may say that
the Rodin of the years from 1877 to 1897 was entirely contained in
the unknown man of the preceding period. It was, indeed, that slow
preparation that gave to the revelation of the works that appearance
of certainty, of sudden mastery, which so struck people's minds. We
are accustomed to see artists make youthful successes with works of
brilliant promise, then we follow their course and see them growing
greater. Rodin came to light in twenty-four hours. He was thought to
be a young beginner; his past struggle was unknown; people were aware
of him only when he had done with scruples and had, as he says, "made
peace with himself." From this fact came his prestige. From it came
also his well-defined attitude in regard to academic art.

[Illustration: ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PREACHING]

We need to recall the graceful, effeminate, and conventional statuary
of the generation from 1865 to 1875 in order to comprehend fully
what _The Age of Brass_ and _St. John the Baptist_ brought into the
exhibitions when they made their appearance there. Rough truth, a sense
of movement, an intense realism, an absolute scorn of the pleasing, a
lofty style, a deep feeling of organic life, power due to the eager
love of form, of muscular formation and physical activity; all these
things inevitably shocked the gentle sculptors who were enamoured of
the academic style and of mythology. Moreover, Rodin was unknown;
he had no claim, knew nobody, had never asked for anything, and was
a son of the people. That Carrier-Belleuse's former workman should
take upon himself to make statues all by himself aroused scorn. His
technical skill was so great that there could be no possibility of
denying it. Therefore, in spite, the accusation of casting from the
life was invented. The accusers did not reflect upon the splendid
testimonial that would be given to the artist if he should succeed in
proving that his skill alone had created this perfection. The amusing
thing is that the same people who declared this skill too great to be
anything but a reproduction, accused Rodin, twenty years later, over
his _Balzac_, of not knowing his craft! Apart from this question of
fact, and these professional jealousies, the style of these works could
not fail to displease. In them there was already a sort of symbolic
and savage beauty, which has become a characteristic of Rodin's art.
The pained, awakening movement of the man in _The Age of Brass_, the
gesture of _St. John the Baptist_, and still more his wild face with
its open mouth, were so much outside the usual conventions as to make
everybody feel that here was an artist resolved to take no account of
the "École" and its principles. These two splendid studies of the nude
already contained a very special thought. Rodin, therefore, was hated
in the first place as a man who would be revolutionary. He was hated
because he was powerful, because he emerged suddenly from obscurity,
and because he was felt to possess an obstinate individuality. It was
also for these very reasons that warm sympathies went out to Rodin
from among artists opposed to the spirit of the "École," and from
independent writers who divined in him a man capable of expressing in
his art thoughts and emotions that had ceased to be found in art.

[Illustration: EVE.]


[1] This unknown student was called Constant Simon. Rodin remembers him
as a remarkable man.

[2] The hanging committee of the Salon is called a "jury."--TRANS.



II


RODIN'S STUDIO--HIS WORKS FROM 1880 TO 1889--"EVE"; SOME BUSTS;
THE MONUMENT TO VICTOR HUGO--"THE GATE OF HELL"--"THE DANAID"--THE
"THOUGHT"--THE EXHIBITION OF CLAUDE MONET AND RODIN, IN 1889--THE
MONUMENT TO CLAUDE LORRAINE AT NANCY (1892)--"THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS"
(1888-1895)


Rodin's previous works, from 1881 to 1889, had been produced in modest
abodes in the Rue des Fourneaux and the Boulevard de Vaugirard, and
later, in a little studio, granted by the Government, at the Dépôt des
Marbres, in the Rue de l'Université, where a certain number of studios
are given to sculptors. From 1889 onwards the Government granted Rodin
two larger studios there, which he still occupies. At a later date
he also had, at his own expense, a studio in an odd corner of the
Boulevard d'Italie, at a place called the Clos Payen, besides a house
at Sèvres, and eventually one at Meudon, in which he still lives and of
which I shall speak again. Among these were distributed his studies
and his finished works: _The Gate of Hell_ was sketched in at the Rue
de l'Université, and there, too, Rodin's assistants are at work upon
his present groups.

[Illustration: SKETCH FOR A COMPETITION. MONUMENT TO THE DEFENDERS OF
THE COUNTRY]

From 1879 Rodin worked at Sèvres, having been introduced by
Carrier-Belleuse, and a vase decorated by him may be seen there.
In 1880 he made a fine competitive design for the _Monument to the
Defenders of the Nation,_ which was not accepted. In 1881 he made a
figure of _Adam_, which he destroyed, and an _Eve,_ which must be
reckoned among his noblest creations--an _Eve_ ashamed of her faults,
bowed down by terror, vaguely tormented less by remorse for her sin
than by the idea of having created beings for future sorrow. This
_Eve_ is a bronze of formidable appearance and all Rodin breathes in
it. As in the _St. John the Baptist,_ we feel the effect of a definite
conception of sculpture, but here the design is more spiritual and the
scheme of modelling simpler and larger. From that time onward we shall
find the artist producing regularly, putting forth a peaceful power,
and working in complete possession of himself, not free certainly
from doubts and searchings, but allowing nothing of the sort to be
seen. Rodin's way of working is very peculiar; he does not begin one
piece of work, carry it to its conclusion, and then devote himself to
another. He has had from the outset a certain number of thoughts that
correspond to forms, and although he has only shown his works one after
another, he has nevertheless elaborated them side by side, working at
them simultaneously and modifying them one by another. Thus _The Gate
of Hell_ has been made and remade for more than twenty years; thus
the monument to Hugo, not yet handed over, goes back, by the sketches
for it, to 1886; while the studies for _The Burghers of Calais_ date
from 1888, though the monument was only completed in 1895; thus, too,
among the little groups on which Rodin is still at work, are many that
have grown out of rough sketches made fifteen years ago. Rodin has a
store of ideas and emotions dear to him, upon which he has patiently
meditated, which he has promised himself to execute, and which he
brings to ripeness in silence, remaining throughout long years without
appearing to concern himself with them. "Strength and patience" might
be his characteristic motto. Like all great artists, he thought out
the essential lines of his work at once, lines that I shall define at
the end of this book. His is a synthetic and generalising mind, which
can only begin its active course after slow meditation, and conceives
no isolated thing; spontaneous and at the same time prudent. He had
that time of meditation at Brussels, not hastening to produce, not
permitting himself to express an idea until he had prepared in detail
the technical expression, the necessities of the craftsman.

[Illustration: UGOLINO AND HIS CHILDREN]

The _Ugolino_, a cast, of which Rodin exhibited the first sketch in
1882, is the first sign of that preoccupation with Dante, which was to
be shown in all his later work. He has read comparatively few things,
and that designedly; he attaches himself strongly to a few great and
profound works, and meditates upon them indefatigably. His whole
symbolic imagination has been fed by Dante and his whole sensuous
imagination by Baudelaire. These two gloomy poets have impressed him,
and it may be said that he has absorbed them. Almost all Rodin's great
symbolic figures refer to the _Inferno_, and all his little groups of
lovers have the neurotic subtlety, the refined, homesick melancholy
of the _Fleurs du Mal._ He has a constant need to evolve from realism
to general ideas, from thought to delight or sorrow, and the ideal of
Dante or of Baudelaire is strangely mingled in him with love of the
antique and worship of mythology. It is, indeed, this quite individual
fusion that forms the basis of his personality. The _Ugolino_, which
was exhibited, first alone and then with his dying children, over
whom he is crouching, haggard and already almost like a wild beast,
is a tragic and powerful work. The same year Rodin produced the bust
of Alphonse Legros, which has taken so high a place in England in
the opinion of the best judges, and in that of the lamented W. E.
Henley, whose penetrating criticism paid homage from the first to our
sculptor's art.

[Illustration: BELLONA _Page_ 17]

[Illustration: BELLONA]

_The Genius of War,_ the _Monument to General Lynch_, and the very
curious _Bellona,_ date from 1883; the _President Vicunha_[1] and a
_Bust of a Young Woman_, from 1884. This was rather a period of groping
than of production; Rodin was continuing his studies, and becoming
more confirmed in his technical methods. We must go on to the year
1885 to reach the revelation of three of his finest sculptures--the
three busts of _Dalou_, _Victor Hugo,_ and _Antonin Proust_, which
powerfully declare his personality. These are works that are not
disputable, that cannot be accused of having a "literary" intention,
mere bits of sculpture giving evidence of mastery and showing surfaces,
planes, and high lights worthy of the very finest busts of the French
school. As time goes by, the ideas, the philosophy, the symbolism,
the "dramatisation" of Rodin's compositions may come to be disputed,
or exact comprehension of them may be lost; but works like these will
always, by their mere professional worth, bear witness for him. Life,
thought, strength, and character are carried as far as is possible. The
bust of Hugo was the outcome of some few studies that the artist was
able to make from the life. Hugo declared David of Angers to have made
so good a bust of him that he considered it unnecessary ever to sit
again. Rodin wished to obtain sittings, but failed; the poet admitted
him to his table, and merely said to him, "Come when you like, observe
me ... and do what you can." At table Rodin took sketches of Hugo in
cigarette-paper books; he had a stand and some clay in the ante-room,
and from time to time he would run in to note down anything that had
just struck him.

VICTOR HUGO. (DRY POINT)

VICTOR HUGO. (DRY-POINT)

In this manner was that admirable bust completed, which (with the two
etchings here reproduced) was the only material of which Rodin could
make use for the Hugo with the bowed head of his future monument, the
commission for which was given him by the Government after the death of
the national poet in 1883, and which is on the eve of completion.

The next year (1886) Rodin exhibited the scheme of the monument itself,
which has since undergone several variations, but of which the central
theme is always as follows: Hugo, naked and half-draped, like a god,
is seated on a rock at the edge of the sea. With his outstretched left
arm he makes a silencing gesture towards the sea and the Nereids,
and thus begs them to let him listen to the Muse of his Inner Voice,
who rises, pensively, behind him, and to the Muse of Anger, who,
crouched on a rock above his head, seems ready to fly up into the
sky. This Muse may also be interpreted as an Ins, the messenger of
the voices of the elements, and the Muse of the Inner Voice is also
called Meditation. She is of the greatest beauty; hers is one of the
figures in which, before the _Balzac_, Rodin indicates his new method
of amplifying the relief and systematically altering the proportions,
in order--according to an idea which I shall analyse in detail in
the next chapter--to secure a decorative effect. Nothing can be more
expressive and more supernatural than the harmonious sadness of this
great drooping shape; it is really a soul incarnated in a movement of
modesty and secret contemplation that disturbs and moves us as we gaze.
The Hugo himself is truly Olympian in the majesty of his gesture, the
vastness of his heroic nudity, and the magic of the shadow that bathes
his face bowed partly down over his breast; and the monument as a whole
is of magnificent decorative unity. There are to be two monuments
to Victor Hugo, one for the Pantheon, the other for the Luxembourg
Gardens, and they are to have slight variations, not in the attitude
of Hugo himself, but in the significance and style of the adjacent
figures. These two monuments, however, have not been accepted without
great difficulties caused by the very nature of Rodin's conception; and
the fact that they are accepted has not prevented the Place Victor Hugo
from being disfigured by a hideous and gigantic monument, the work of
Barrias, which fills the place of those that Rodin had not completed.
Rodin's slowness, which arises from the scrupulous circumspection
of his mind--never satisfied with itself--and from his habit of working
simultaneously at several subjects, has always contributed towards
driving away official commissions from him; while the jealousy of
his fellows and the exceptional character of his work have further
helped to bring about strained relations between him and the official
circle. Rodin does not care about pleasing or about being understood
by everybody, and he has no idea of concessions. Thus almost all his
important works have given rise to incidents likely to disturb his
peace and hinder his work.

[Illustration: BUST OF VICTOR HUGO.]

[Illustration: VICTOR HUGO MONUMENT. (A FRAGMENT)]

[Illustration: VICTOR HUGO. (A FRAGMENT)]

Together with the sketch of the Hugo monument, a bust of Henry Becque,
and a curious etching made from it, Rodin exhibited in 1886 the first
drawings belonging to _The Gate of Hell_, or at least to the work which
people have agreed to call by that title. I have already related the
origin of that Government commission. In the beginning Rodin had been
asked to make a door in high-relief, intended for the Musée des Arts
Décoratifs. But the sculptor's imagination, beset by ideas of Dante,
soon deviated from the original scheme. The door really exists in the
studio of the Rue de l'Université, under the aspect of a vast rough
model in plaster and beams, in the very simple shape of a two-leaved
door 19 ½ feet high, with a frieze, a tympanum, and two lateral
capitals. It was, at first, to have been surmounted by the two figures
of Adam and Eve, but Rodin gave them up. He now seems determined to
place the _Shades_, here reproduced, in the highest plane.[2] On the
uppermost beam _The Thinker_ is to be seated. In the panels of the
door and upon the wide uprights are enshrined figures--to the number
of over a hundred--detached in high-relief, exactly as upon the gates
of the Baptistery in Florence, which Rodin has, quite simply, taken
as his model. These figures were, at first, direct interpretations
from Dante, in particular Paolo and Francesca da Rimini and divers
inhabitants of the Inferno. Then Rodin intermingled figures due solely
to his inspirations from Baudelaire and to his own sharp perception
of tragic perversity. He enlarged Dante's conception as he modernised
it, and has ended by making this door into what he smilingly calls
"my Noah's Ark." That means that he is continually putting in little
figures which replace others; there, plastered into the niches left
by unfinished figures, he places everything that he improvises,
everything that seems to him to correspond in character and subject
with that vast confusion of human passions. The size of these figures
is greatly restricted; the largest scarcely exceed thirty-nine inches
in height. The dimensions of the final rendering, however, still remain
to be fixed. The splendid figure called _The Thinker_ is carried out
in bronze larger than life, and Rodin is credited with an intention of
bringing up all the other figures to the same dimensions, which would
represent an unheard-of outlay and a gate nearly a hundred feet high--a
Cyclopean work indeed! _The Thinker_, who has been so called on account
of the likeness between his attitude and that of Michael Angelo's
_Pensieroso_, is much more truly an image, with his stunted body and
a primitive man's face, of the cave-dweller, the prognathous savage
beholding the crimes and passions of his progeny unroll themselves
below him. Immediately beneath him may be seen the most celebrated
characters of the Dante cycle, notably the lovers of Rimini entwined
and falling into hell.[3] Then as we descend towards the ground the
figures become more independent of the subject, more personally
invented by the artist, and at the foot we find "women damned," such as
Baudelaire conceived, amid characters from heathen mythology.

[Illustration: NEREIDS (Group at the base of the Victor Hugo monument.)]

It may thus be said that, although, perhaps, the celebrated doorway
may never be finished, it is a storehouse of Rodin's creations. It
stands by him as a theme for inspirations, and he brings into it a
whole category of thoughts and works, never troubling himself about the
architecture or the actual scheme. He will be for ever improvising some
little figure, shaping the notation of some feeling, idea, or form, and
this he plants in his door, studies it against the other figures, then
takes it out again, and if need be, breaks it up and uses the fragments
for other attempts. Many of these little figures have developed into
important separate groups. Rodin is ruled primarily by the need to
create and to satisfy an irresistible vocation; he cares little what
may be the ultimate transformation of his inventions, and his sculpture
is, furthermore, so conceived that it may be executed on a large scale
or a small; this is indeed so much the case that it is often impossible
to judge from a photograph what are the dimensions.


[Illustration: SHADES (For the top of "The Gate of Hell".)]

_The Gate of Hell_ might therefore better be called "the Pandemonium,"
or some quite other name. If it were to be carried out it could not
contain all the figures destined for it by the artist. There they
stand, innumerable, ranged on shelves beside the rough model of the
door, representing the entire evolution of Rodin's inspiration, and
forming what I call, with his consent, "the diary of his life as a
sculptor." To enumerate these figures and groups would take too long;
suffice to say that the larger part of Rodin's small marbles and
bronzes are but completions of these sketches, and that on account of
the essentially decorative character of the outlines and the intense
originality of the proportion and balance of the figures, they can
be conceived either as statuettes or as lifesized works. Such as it
is, _The Gate of Hell_ is the plan of a piece of work unique in the
sculpture of modern days, a plan slowly elaborated, and of which every
detail has been foreseen and analysed for years. No one has dared to
undertake so audacious an assemblage of figures upon such a scheme, and
the scheme is present to Rodin in its entirety. He by no means forgets
the decorative effect nor the harmonious aspects, the concords that the
gate should have, and if ever Government should require him to deliver
his work he would be able to do so without delay. Twenty years in the
studio have matured it in his mind. The work that Dante inspired has
assumed a more general significance. Low-relief, high-relief, figures
standing free, groups, single figures, all the styles of sculpture are
gathered into the symphony of a throng, lost amid whirling mists of
hell and converging towards the figure of the Thinker. The conception
embraces centuries. Ugolino is there, and so are centaurs, female
fauns, satyrs, and creatures dreamed of by Baudelaire, abstract
personifications of vices--in particular, there is the extraordinary
group of the miser dying of hunger over his treasure beside a
prostitute _(Avarice and Lewdness)._ The Thinker, in his austere nudity
and pensive strength, is at one and the same time the alarmed Adam,
the implacable Dante, and the compassionate Virgil of this frightful
unrestrained humanity, but he is, above all, the ancestor, the first
man, simple and unconscious, looking down on what he has begotten. The
symbolism and philosophy of the artist are independent of any religious
doctrine; his spiritual ardour excels in setting free the symbols of
the various creeds, and he is supported mainly by deep and incessant
consultation of nature, and by his exceptional sense of expression
in movements. He attains the decorative harmony of his work not by
additions, but by systematic suppressions, as the Gothic artists and
those of the Renascence did.

[Illustration: THE THINKER]

_The Gate of Hell_ is the outcome of studies made by Rodin from the
Gothic sculptors, during his stay in Brussels. In this, and in _The
Burghers of Calais_, he resumes the deep influence that he there
underwent. As to the influence that the antique had upon him, that only
showed itself later, in his smaller works in marble, and especially
in the _Balzac_ and recent productions. The _Gate_ corresponds to the
period in which Rodin's great aim was to create, through intensity
of movement and originality of attitude and outline, a _new system
of the dramatic_ in his art, which the taste of the day had frozen
into a false "neo-Greek nobility," obtained by immobility, by inertia
of outline, and by a fear of seeing too living a movement break the
general harmony. To seek a fresh harmony in the very study of movement,
to create, side by side with _static_ art, a _dynamic_ art, such, in a
brief formula, was Rodin's idea.

He was shortly to exhibit a work which was still more significant of
the thoughts with which he was busy. For, though I have spoken at once
of that famous _Gate,_ which is the _leit-motiv_ of Rodin's art, it
must be remembered that in 1886 nothing was known of it but drawings.
Only by degrees have groups and fragments of it been seen, and the
work itself has never left the studio in the Rue de l'Université. It
was _The Burghers of Calais_ which revealed most clearly to the public
Rodin's capabilities in the way of style and of composing a whole work,
and I will speak of the _Burghers_ in this chapter, although the work
was not completed until 1892 and was not set up in Calais until 1895.

[Illustration: DANAID]

[Illustration: DANAID]

[Illustration: THOUGHT]

In 1887 we may note _Perseus and the Gorgon_, and a marble _Head of
the beheaded St. John_, which belongs to the Marchioness of Carcano.
In 1888 was exhibited the exquisite _Danaid,_ one of the most tender
female figures that were ever lovingly moulded by this sculptor of
the energetic, and one which has a subtle delicacy of soul that seems
strangely placed between two works of power. At the same time a naked
figure was also shown at the Exposition des Beaux Arts, in Brussels--a
_Man Walking_, which was no other than one of the _Burghers,_ and
of which the robust execution made an impression. The year 1889 marked
an increase of the artist's activity. He was busy upon preparatory work
for the monument of Claude Lorraine, which he had been commissioned to
make for Nancy. He was going on with _The Gate of Hell._ He completed a
statue of Bastien-Lepage for the cemetery of Damvilliers. He began upon
the busts of the art critics, Octave Mirbeau and Roger Marx, finished
an admirable little _Dream-Group_ in marble, in which a young man is
lying back and trying to hold fast a sphinx-woman who takes flight,
wild and fateful. An impressionist sketch of _Hecuba_, crouching down
and shrieking, and _Thought_, in marble, completed the record of this
well-filled year. _Thought,_ a proud, sweet head rising from a block,
is one of Rodin's best known works and the very symbol of his art.
It occupies a place in the Museum of the Luxembourg, where it is in
company with _The Danaid,_ the _St. John, The Kiss,_ a masterly female
bust, and a bronze statuette. _The Fair Helmet-Maker,_ from Villon's
poem, is a work on a very small scale, but containing the depth and
strength of tragedy--the whole drama of a human body's ruin.

[Illustration: THE FAIR HELMET-MAKER]


In 1889 Rodin and Claude Monet together held, in the George Petit
gallery, an exhibition which has remained famous and which united
our two greatest artists. Rodin sent to it the _Women Damned_, the
_Beheaded St. John_, some _Fauns_ and _Bacchantes_, _Bastien-Lepage,_
in all some thirty works, among which was _The Burghers of Calais_,
shown complete for the first time. The sensation produced was immense.
Rodin now tasted unmistakable fame, and his reputation spread all over
the world. This fame, however, did not disarm the official circle, and
not until the last three or four years have the critics been unanimous
in their praise of the great French sculptor, whose every important
work has given occasion to a battle, because its beauty arose from
principles opposed to the whole system taught in the schools.

The five following years were marked by various works which did not,
however, interfere with the threefold parallel continuation of the
_Victor Hugo, The Burghers of Calais,_ and _The Gate of Hell_, which
were exhibited in various states in the Salon. Rodin considers it his
duty, indeed, to submit to the public the phases of his work, rough
attempts, clay, marbles, or bronzes, before the final completion; and
understanding very well that his style is, or seems to be difficult,
he thus explains himself to the public in the exhibitions, and allows
people to follow the stages through which his thought passes. In
addition to these works may be noted, for the year 1890, the bust
of a young woman, in silver, _Brother and Sister_, bronze, and the
_Torso_ of St. John the Baptist. In 1891, _The Caryatid_, a marble
figure of a young woman with a stone upon her shoulder, the group of
_The Young Mother_ (first bronze and then marble), and _A Nymph._ In
1892, the busts of _Rochefort_ and of _Puvis de Chavannes,_ which, with
those of _Dalou, Jean Paul Laurens_, _Hugo_, and _Falguière,_ form
an incomparable series from Rodin's hand of portraits that surpass
all modern French sculpture, and are admirable alike in execution and
expression. The _Puvis de Chavannes_ is perhaps the finest; it is a
work that does not pall even beside Donatello himself. In 1892 the
_Burghers_ and the _Claude Lorraine_ were completed. The _Burghers_
waited three years for their setting up, but the monument to Lorraine
was inaugurated immediately, thanks to the devoted efforts of that
great art-worker in glass, Émile Gallé, and of Roger Marx, who by
his writings and his incessant activity has had a most noble effect
upon modern French art. These two eminent men, both natives of Nancy,
enforced the acceptance of the work. The monument consists of a statue
of Lorraine, standing, palette in hand, his head raised eagerly towards
the east, and of a pedestal from which Apollo and his rearing horses
stand out in splendid high-relief. Thus did Rodin seek to pay homage
to the master-painter who adored movement in light, by acclaiming
both these in his turn. Fault has been found with the importance of
the pedestal in comparison with the statue, the objectors failing to
understand that this allegory of Apollo incarnated the very soul of
the great artist whose effigy towered over the whole work, and that
this whole could not be dissevered. The idea animating this composition
was criticised by the authorities. Here, once more, Rodin with his
symbolic vision, his tendency to bold simplifications of the general,
synthetic idea, was found disturbing. He was asked for the _sculptured
portrait_ of a man, and he preferred to give prominence to a symbol
that expressed the dream and the essential genius of that man, the
sun-painter--an idea which was logical, but which ran counter to
the received prejudice as to portrait statues. The propagandist
persistence of Gallé and Roger Marx, however, convinced the people of
Nancy, who are now very proud of their monument. The horses and the
Apollo are the most living, palpitating, and lyrical things that Rodin
has produced.

[Illustration: PUVIS DE CHAVANNES]

[Illustration: JEAN-PAUL LAURENS]

In 1893 Rodin made the bust of Madame _Séverine,_ the medallion of
_César Franck,_ and several works in marble; _Galatea, The Death of
Adonis, The Education of Achilles,_ and _The Wave._ From 1894 date
the _Eternal Spring,_ one of his tenderest and purest works, besides
an _Orpheus and Eurydice,_ an _Adonis and Venus,_ and finally _Christ
and the Magdalen._ For, by degrees, he was returning to religious and
mythological subjects, after having expressed only general symbols
or pieces of pure realism; and I shall have to call attention at a
later point to the original manner in which Rodin was bold enough to
interpret these subjects which the academic classicism seemed to have
worn out and left insipid for ever.

The year 1895 at last beheld the inauguration, on the 3rd of June, of
_The Burghers of Calais_ at Calais. To the same year belongs another
fine work in marble: _Illusion, the Daughter of Icarus,_ besides
a vigorous bronze, _The Crouching Man,_ a medallion of _Octave
Mirbeau,_ and--at this early date--some nude studies for the _Balzac,_
for the _Balzac_ was studied minutely in the nude, a point of which
many people know nothing, before appearing draped in the famous
dressing-gown which was destined, in 1898, to arouse so much clamour.

[Illustration: BUST OF MADAME V.]

The _Burghers_ were set up, by subscription, in a square in Calais.[4]

The monument is one in which Rodin has deliberately departed from
all the rules of official art. These require that the effect should
be pursued primarily by a compact grouping, the same thought being
translated by the same gesture from all the persons. Rodin, on the
contrary, desired to leave their full individuality to his six burghers
going in their shirts and with halters on their necks to surrender
themselves to King Edward, and he has isolated them on their one
base. These six men are walking, one behind the other, two by two,
half naked and miserable, with their emaciated faces--men besieged,
sacrificed. One devotion unites them in the name of their town's
salvation, but their characters and their thoughts remain distinct,
and in each may be read a different drama of the conscience. They
have not the factitious enthusiasm and the declamatory gesture with
which an ordinary sculptor would have thought well to furnish them;
they are simply citizens who have resolved to fulfil a fatal duty,
and are going to perform it without cowardice, but nevertheless were,
yesterday, trades-people and family-men with no pretensions to the
heroic. They bear with them their regrets, their inner heartbreak, and
are not thinking of striking an attitude in the eyes of history. They
are the unknown, obscure heroes of a fatality such as often arose in
their rough times; and of how many dead men, devoted like them, has
history forgotten the deeds and names! There is Eustace de St. Pierre,
with his shaven magistrate's face, stiff and controlled, carrying the
key of the town; behind him Andrieux d'Andres, with his hands clenched
over his sobbing face, turns back, this last time, towards the city.
Jean de Fiennes, with his rough beard and weak, old man's shoulders, is
listening to Jean d'Aire, who, younger than he, is murmuring words that
perhaps confide to him his horror of death, and entreat from the old
man encouragement in renunciation. But in front of all the others the
two brothers, Jacques and Pierre de Wissant, advance resolutely; and
one turns back to hasten his friends, while one exhorts them, pointing
with a restrained gesture towards heaven.

[Illustration: THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS]

The entire reality of these figures is no less striking than their
ideality, just as is the case in the beautiful creations of the
"Primitives." These are men whose absolutely real nakedness reveals
itself beneath the coarse sacks that clothe them, a nakedness not
harmonised into any style, but shown in all its veracity by an artist
who has chosen models suitable to his characters without any care to
arrange them or to give them that pretended _beauty_ which would be
merely a falsehood and an enfeeblement. These are six wretched men,
shivering with cold and anguish. The scene is as close as possible
to history, and the faces are real--ugly or ordinary. But an idea
transfigures them. The tragedy of their sacrifice gives them a strange
greatness, and they become fine because their soul is fine. We guess
the gradation of their reflections: none faces his fate just like
another, and the reason is that, though what they will is one, what
they leave is different for each, and everything in them speaks, from
their faces down to the least attitude of their limbs. Their expression
is sober; a heavy silence enwraps them; we follow them with our
eyes as the dwellers in Calais must have done from the heights of
their walls; and they are so grouped that from every point we see them
separately, presenting a distinct aspect, and yet the one base unites
and uplifts them. This is a marvel of psychological composition.

Technical skill assists this composition; we find the power of the
_St. John_, but more simplification. Only the essential lines attract
the eye, the details are subsidiary to the whole. Admirable bits of
flesh modelling are only noticed after long examination; the substance
is scarcely thought of, so much is the mind held at first by the
intellectual drama, and this was what Rodin desired. These six beings,
side by side, are august in their sorrow, and they move us by means of
their simplicity and by the absence of any theatrical gesture. We feel
the bodies under the shirts, for Rodin made six complete models in the
nude before he threw upon them these rags of stuff and knotted ropes.
The feet are strongly attached to the earth; we guess that their limbs
are heavy, because, though their will bids them walk, every step leads
towards death. The impression is extraordinary and such as perhaps no
sculpture ever gave before. This is a reality of all time: the epic of
the sacrifice of the humble. As for the style, it recalls the Gothic
sculptors by the rugged power of the moulding, the asceticism of the
heads, and the strength of the knotty limbs. We are compelled to think
of the Flemish "primitives," and especially of those genial Burgundian
sculptors and image-makers of genius who produced the immortal figures
of Philippe Pot's tomb in the Louvre. There is the same desire for
expression in sculpture, which seeks beauty solely in intensity of
character, and finds style in the sincere study of reality--all
these things concurring towards the greater synthesis of the work's
general thought. Rodin there shows himself an essentially French and
northern artist, alien from all that the academies, hypnotised by the
Italianism of the second Renascence, have chosen to invent as dogmas
of beauty. _The Burghers of Calais_ is a work of the true French
classic tradition--of the national classicality which has nothing in
common with that classicality imported from Italy in 1550 by which our
indigenous artists have so long been oppressed, thanks to the "École
de Rome." Standing before such a creation we recognise this truth
sharply--this truth which is the secret of Rodin's genius and of
the enthusiasm that he aroused. Better than Rude, better than Barye,
better even than Carpeaux, has he found the way to free himself, and to
go back, by power of thought and mastery, to our true national lineage.

[Illustration: A BURGHER OF CALAIS]

[Illustration: A BURGHER OF CALAIS]

[Illustration: A BURGHER OF CALAIS]

The _Burghers_ ought, according to Rodin's idea, to be placed in front
of the old Hotel de Ville of Calais, facing the sea; and he wished
the group to be placed on a very high pedestal, so that the figures
should stand out against the open sky, or else, on the other hand,
almost on the level, so that everyone could walk round them, live with
them, almost elbow them. A bad site has been chosen and a pedestal of
moderate height and ordinary appearance. The _Burghers_ are very fine
all the same, and are certainly the most powerful piece of sculpture
of the epoch. I have promised to be sober in my praises of Rodin, but
I do not see why in speaking of such a work as this I should hide my
convictions. Those who have seen it cannot fail to consider it, as I
do, the work of a thinker and of an artist of genius.


[1] It Is curious to recollect that the very fine equestrian statue of
General Lynch and the monument to President Vicunha, sent to America
by Rodin, were never paid for, and that, owing to revolutions, they
actually disappeared, so that these works may be considered lost. Only
the spoiled rough models and some photographs remain.

[2] These _Shades_ are a symbolic representation of men who are just
dead, and who are bending down with folded hands in misery and terror
gazing at the hellish crowd into which they are about to fall.

[3] The final version of this group has been treated by Rodin
separately, and is known by the name of _The Kiss_. The marble group is
in the Museum of the Luxembourg.

[4] A statue of Eustace de St. Pierre had been asked for. Rodin sent
the six effigies of burghers, and this gave rise to fresh difficulties
with the authorities.



III


RODIN'S WORK FROM 1895 TO 1898--SMALL GROUPS--THE STATUE OF "BALZAC"
--THE INCIDENT OF THE SOCIÉTÉ DES GENS DE LETTRES--THE "TECHNIQUE"
OF THE "BALZAC"--RODIN'S IDEAS UPON MODELLING AND COMPOSITION--HIS
OPINIONS ABOUT THE GREEKS, THE GOTHIC STYLE, CLASSICISM, AND
MYTHOLOGICAL SUBJECTS--RODIN'S "ANTIQUE" PERIOD.


The year 1896 was occupied by the continuation of work for the Hugo
monument. The _Muse of Anger_ and the _Muse of the Inna' Voice_ were
brought to their full completion. In addition to these Rodin made a
very fine head of _Minerva,_ in marble, with a silver helmet; a statue
of a _Conqueror_, holding a statue of _Victory;_ and two groups--_The
Poet and the Life of Contemplation_ (for M. Fenaille, the faithful
admirer, who was, at a later date, to publish his sketches) and _The
Eternal Idol,_ a marvel of inspiration. A young naked woman is in a
half-sitting posture, her head bent, her gaze lost in a dream. A man
kneeling before her, his arms behind him and his desire restrained,
puts his head gently forward and kisses the idol beneath the left
breast over the heart, with mute fervour, and with a mystic, amorous
concentration of his whole being. Rarely does sculpture allow of so
much pulsating life and so much psychological emotion united to plastic
perfection and originality of arrangement.

From 1897 date the marble group of the _Women Bathing,_ the last
studies for the _Balzac,_ and the studies for the _Monument to
President Sarmiento_, a statue upon a pedestal in high-relief. Small
groups in marble and in bronze are a form of which Rodin is fond. He
has been led to devote himself largely to them on account of _The Gate
of Hell,_ the dimensions of which necessitated small figures. Moreover,
Rodin reserves this form of art for certain categories of works that
have a character of passion and intimacy. It should be possible to pass
easily round them, to lean over them, almost to touch them and move
them about; one should be able to live with them, as one cannot do with
large figures meant to be looked at from below. The happy form of the
small sculptured block, which the eighteenth century had employed to
so much advantage, allows this constant communion of the spectator and
the work of art. Rodin, who executes his bigger figures in so large a
style, reserves for these a style that is minute but never mannered.
The outlines remain large, so much so, indeed, that the work would
always bear an enlarged scale; but the modelling is wrought with an
almost caressing touch and with a strange love of form. Here the rough
sculptor, so Gothic in his austerity, fingers the marble with the care
and the delicacy of a lover; he reveals himself as a fervent adorer of
smooth, womanly flesh; he plays with the subtlest variations of light
upon the inflexion of marble surfaces, and the man who is reproached
with caring for nothing but "character" and with despising "beauty"
creates arms, necks, knees, and bosoms of exquisite perfection. His
favourite type of woman is the long, delicately made woman, with
a small bust, largely curved hips, and a face full of will, the
nervous, feline, voluptuous woman, of head rather than of heart, such
as Baudelaire and Rops have imagined. The characteristic feature of
Rodin's small groups is the seeking after new combinations of movement.
I have said already that his essential idea was the production of
_dynamic_ art; that is to say that, finding himself face to face
with an academic school that had grown inert owing to its care for
pseudo-harmony, he had determined to draw sculpture out of this blind
alley and to show, before all things, how the expression of movement
might lead to an entirely new conception of decorative outline. From
this endeavour arose those little groups of lovers in which the
attitudes are so infinitely varied, those curious presentments in
which the arms and legs are placed as freely as in a painting. But the
painting has the help of shadow, of backgrounds, and of values, which
allow the light to be concentrated on a single point and the rest to be
blurred. Rodin has attempted so to compose his most audacious movements
that, in walking round, a new aspect of them is constantly presented,
whereas ordinary sculpture, meant to be seen from a single point, does
not allow the spectator to pass behind it. This difficulty and this
main idea have led Rodin to treat modelling and composition in a way
upon which I shall dwell more fully later on, and to invent a style of
statuary which borrows some of the laws of painting.

These thoughts had long been ripening in Rodin when at last he resolved
to apply them to his _Balzac_, which was really not his first attempt
in this direction, but the first that was seen in public. When this
statue appeared in the Salon of 1898, it created such a commotion that
for a week the public forgot, over it, the events of that vast serial
story, the Dreyfus affair. The clamour was extraordinary; some people
raged at what they considered a scandalous practical joke, others
warmly defended the new work. The Société des Gens de Lettres, already
irritated by Rodin's delays in finishing the statue, declared plainly
that it refused the _Balzac_, a decision which led to the resignation
of the committee. Rodin might have brought an action and won it,
for, strictly speaking, his agreement required the society to accept
the work such as he delivered it. He preferred to withdraw his work
without claiming its price or discussing the matter. Once again his art
encountered violent opposition from the official camp--but to struggle
is repugnant to his temper. Inflexible in his will as a producer, he is
timid and proud in his attitude towards contradictions. Opportunity,
moreover, offered him a roguish and witty revenge. Falguière was
commissioned to make a _Balzac._ This put Falguière in a very awkward
position; after all the fuss made about Rodin's statue, he must needs
produce something finer, or at the very least equally interesting. He
was certain of a bad reception at the hands of Rodin's admirers and he
was bound to please the others. Falguière only succeeded in producing a
mediocre work. The _Balzac_ that may be seen at the present time in the
Avenue de Friedland is nothing but a half-hearted imitation of Rodin's;
it is Rodin's _Balzac_ seated, and without character or interest. This
work appeared in 1900, at a time when opinion was already beginning
to recognise the injustice done to Rodin, and it pleased nobody.
Then Rodin, to show that the incident had in no way altered his
friendly relations with Falguière,[1] made an admirable bust of his
fellow-worker, which was as fine as the second _Balzac_ was poor, and
thus gave to Falguière and to the public, also, a silent and ironical
lesson.

What, then, was this _Balzac_ which was so much detested, and about
which the most abusive and extraordinary things were written? Merely
the image of the great writer, draped in a dressing-gown, with empty,
hanging sleeves; he has risen in the night and is walking up and down,
disturbed and sleepless, pursuing an idea that has suddenly presented
itself. He is bent forward, his head thrown back, the eyes deep-set,
and the mouth contracted in a smile of challenge. The powerful
neck--the neck indeed of a bull--emerges from the open wrapper. Rodin
made use of various daguerreotypes, and especially of a celebrated
portrait of Balzac, that shows him in shirt-sleeves with one brace,
and folded arms. The enormous proportions of the head, the amazing
strength of the thorax, the monstrous and leonine character of the face
are all exact. "His was the countenance of an element," said Lamartine
of Balzac, "with a torso that was joined to the head by an enormous
neck, short legs, and short arms." These words absolutely justify the
statue. Rodin had made studies for it in the nude (there are some fine
clay models of the subject in his studio), then he clothed it with a
gown (or to be more exact, with a bath-wrap, for that is what Balzac's
famous monk's robe was), and proceeded to simplify the folds until
he had left only the two or three essential ones. The result thus
obtained, with the disproportion of body and legs, led Rodin to hide
the short, ugly, useless arms under the drapery, and the figure thus
assumed pretty much the appearance of a mummy, of a sort of monolith,
from which nothing stood out but the one point of interest, the savage
and magnificent animality of the head, with its darkened gaze and the
bitterly curved mouth, of which Rodin had made a separate small study
in bronze. A great heave of the shoulders throws the body slightly
backward, causing it to rest upon one leg, which is apparently bent,
while the other is moved forward to walk.

[Illustration: BALZAC]

The whole work gives the impression of a _menhir_, a pagan dedicatory
stone. Interest is concentrated solely upon the head. Rodin considered
that the representation of a celebrated figure offered no corporeal
interest. It is evident that a great error prevails on this subject.
The ancients have transmitted to us naked or draped statues. It must
be remembered that this homage was almost always paid to warriors,
athletes, or courtesans; to represent these at full length was to
express their fame. Their beautiful shape received fit homage. The gods
were conceived as incarnations of moral beauty in physical beauty.
But as time and morality have gradually brought us to honour men who
are great in thought, the bodily representation of them has strayed
into an extremely false path. Dress and physical exterior ceased to be
of plastic interest, but the manner of our homage remained the same.
Busts with pedestals commemorating in writing the deeds or the works
would have been the right form of celebration. But this, the only
intelligent form, appeared to our modern statue-maniac ages too scanty.
This heretical opinion has given birth to the gentlemen in frock-coats
who disfigure our present towns and are hoisted upon pedestals in our
public squares. To this absurd point have we come: in order to honour
the soul we reproduce its husk, the body, which is destined to the
nothingness of the grave, and we represent the shoes and coats as
exactly as the head. We attempt in our pious regard for the essence
of a thinker to represent that part of him which was transitory. The
result is photography in bronze, a wretched artistic contradiction.
Nevertheless, if we are to bow to custom and represent a man at full
length of whom the head is the only important fact, we must indeed
give him a body that is like reality; but the artist should try to
concentrate interest as much as possible on the face. So illogical
is this style in itself that the bodies and clothes are copied from
chance models; the head of the person to be glorified is stuck on to
them, and it is the merest bit of luck if it has been possible to shape
this head itself from actual evidence! For plenty of statues represent
individuals who never looked like them, and of whom no authentic
likeness exists, which is the height of absurdity and the very
burlesque of an honour.[2]

[Illustration: BALZAC]

In such cases an allegorical monument should be a matter of necessity;
yet we behold hundreds of such statues, all the same, and our prejudice
in favour of verisimilitude requires us to contemplate the embroidery
of their doublets or the trimming of their coats.

Rodin, for his part, to whom such ideas, which degrade his art to the
lowest level, are revolting, believes that composition and expression
should be so arranged as to make the spectator forget the _plastique_
of the body. In his busts he neglects the inevitable linen collar,
coat-collar, and necktie. The graceful dress of _Claude Lorraine_, the
shirt and rope of _The Burghers of Calais,_ had served his purpose
well, and in the statues of _General Lynch_ and _Bastien-Lepage_ he
had reduced the modern dress to large bronze reliefs without precise
details. Especially in the image of a thinker he seeks to annul the
costume. The Olympian character of Hugo allowed of the nude; for the
massive deformity of Balzac the dressing-gown was appropriate. The
majority of those who mocked did not even know that this careless
costume was habitual to the author, and that Rodin chose to surprise
him in his home and in the fever of work, instead of showing him in the
street with a hat and stick, as they would no doubt have expected.

The _Balzac_, then, presents the aspect of a sheath of stone pushed out
by a few twisting folds, which give it the appearance from behind of
an upright sarcophagus. The size of the head, the abnormal largeness
of the chest and neck, which have aroused mockery, are historic. Apart
from these points, one honestly wonders what it is that can have
shocked people in this bold and sincere work. The face is admirable in
its pride, its strength of will, its haughty irony, and penetrating
power of thought. The modelling and the leading lines are masterly.
The rather ghostly look of the clay disappears in the bronze, as may
be seen from the little head in that material, of which the monument
was to be made. It is the freedom, the spontaneity, the life of the
statue, which, as in the case of the _Burghers,_ gave a shock to the
conventions of the official world and disturbed the ideas of the public
at large.

It is true, nevertheless, and is generally admitted even by its most
active adversaries that this great figure possesses a strange haunting
power; when one had seen it in the Salon one could see nothing else
after it, and could not succeed in getting away from it. People
returned to it, in order to attack it, but they did return to it
inevitably. The same official sculptors who in 1877 had accused _The
Age of Brass_ of being cast from life because the figure was so exact
did not shrink from accusing this same Rodin, matured by twenty years
of work, of "not knowing the figure" and hiding his Balzac under a
robe out of weakness. Besides these reproaches, which were made in
bad faith, reproaches arose which exclaimed at Rodin's madness or
hypocritically regretted that a man of so much talent should have made
so great a mistake. But one thing which the _Bahac_ never encountered
was indifference; what was the spell which compelled everybody to
regard it as an irritating puzzle, as a challenge, as a work out of the
ordinary run? Plenty of hostile faces were to be seen, but many of
them showed a secret fear of being in the wrong, of misunderstanding a
fine thing, a work which was a forerunner. This same fear might have
been read as early as 1867 upon the faces of the detractors who stood
in a ring around Manet's first works.

The spell lay in the extreme simplification, the reduction of the
elements to a powerful unity, according to a scheme with which Rodin
had made experiments in silence and which he now revealed. And at
this point I am led to a brief explanation of Rodin's ideas upon the
technical part of his art.

At the time of the _Balzac's_ appearance I gave an account of the way
by which Rodin had been led to a new conception of sculpture. This was
in an article[3] that has been reproduced more or less everywhere, and
that Rodin has been good enough to consider as the emanation and direct
expression of his artistic wishes. I cannot enter into all the details.
The scale of this book would not allow of that, but the following are
the principal points of that evolution.

Rodin's is above all a temperament inclined to the expression of
passionate and tragic character. Thence comes his constant study of
movement. As I said before, that study has led him to give unlooked-for
values to the general outline and to produce works which may be viewed
on all sides and which continually show a fresh and balanced aspect
that explains the other aspects: otherwise the daring gestures and the
bold combinations of the limbs would have given an air of absurdity
to the groups. Rodin is at the same time very reflective and very
instinctive. He matures a thought slowly, but he often passes by
chance from that thought to its realisation. This is the predominant
feature of his nature, and it explains his entire art. Rodin often
appears unconscious, astonished at what he had in him and at what he
has brought into existence, to such a degree that he explains it badly
enough. He sees his thought in the whole of nature and finds it there
again; that thought, indeed, is fed by general ideas, and is, if I may
say so, almost "elemental." From this point of view Rodin's _genius_
is independent of his _talent_ as a sculptor. It sometimes happens to
him to see a block of marble or a knob of wood, and the form of such an
object will show him what he will make and the movement of the figure.
He adapts to it one of the ideas which he always has in reserve: the
aspect of the wood or the marble determines the passage of the thought
to the material which will incarnate it. I said one day to Rodin: "One
would say that you knew there was a figure in that block, and that you
do nothing beyond breaking away the stone that hides it from us." He
answered that that was exactly his feeling as he worked. Upon the naked
figure Rodin has ideas that are peculiar to his nature as a mystic and
a realist. He considers the body with its four limbs as a cypher, of
which the combinations are infinite. That is an old idea that was held
by primitive theologians of the Eastern religions. And it is the fact
that Rodin has invented an immense series of attitudes and combinations
that one would not have thought possible: he attaches little groups to
the side of a block of marble with the freedom of a painter throwing
a figure upon a background. He makes his people light, he makes them
soar, he entwines them in surprising positions.

It was therefore absolutely essential that he should find means to
constitute a logical harmony _on every side_ of his works. Scholastic
statuary is opposed to this principle. Its tendency is to treat groups
as bas-reliefs. The spectator must stand in front, at a certain spot,
and whatever is behind is accessory: the decorative line produces its
effect only from that point. So true is this that statues are very
often so placed in public squares that people cannot pass round them.
The academic sculptors treat a piece of sculpture like a picture; it
has a right side and a wrong side. Rodin, shocked at this method, began
by working in quite a different way. He made successive sketches of all
the faces of his works, going constantly round them so as to obtain a
series of views connected in a ring. Travels in Italy had led him to
think that the ancients proceeded in this manner and that their great
endeavour was to get the design of the outline by means of movement,
which continually modifies the anatomy. Anatomy, indispensable to
the artist, becomes the source of all the academic errors if once
we forget that it is but inertia, the state of non-action, and
consequently incapable of expressly teaching us about life and about
the modifications that thought imposes upon flesh. The real value of
a living figure is given by profiles studied successively in a full
light. Rodin was delighted by this way of working. But his pictorial
inclinations, his ideas about the possible formation of a _background_
in sculpture as in painting, were not satisfied.

When the academic school wishes to make use of a background to a figure
it confines itself to a hollow or a relief. Rodin desired that a statue
should stand free and should bear looking at from any point, but he
desired nevertheless that it should remain in relation with light and
with the surrounding atmosphere. He was struck by the hard, cut-out
aspect of ordinary statues, and asked himself how an atmosphere might
be given to them. Painting has two means to this end: of which the
first is _values. Values_ are independent of colour. Values, an element
common to both arts, are in painting and sculpture _the relations as
to opacity or transparence of an object and the background against
which it is seen._ They may be dark on a light ground, light on a dark
ground, or light upon a ground that is likewise light; but they are
always the very life of the outline, and the important point is to fix
that outline first of all. When we see a person placed between the
sun and ourselves, against the light, we do not at first perceive the
details within the outline, but we do see the general mass of the body,
and that mass is filled with more or less intense colour, in which we
presently distinguish details. Our perception at the moment is as much
sculptural as pictorial. Rodin, struck by the importance of this idea,
devoted himself to obtaining, _at once and together,_ the _volume;_
that is to say, the equivalent in sculpture of the _value,_ and the
design of _successive views of one movement._

But the second means in painting is the employment of intermediate
tones encircling the figure and combining with the background. How
could an equivalent be found for that? Logic led Rodin on to a step
which alarmed him: he made experiments after examining the antiques
very closely. He took fragments of his statues and began to raise them
in certain places by layers of clay, intensifying the modelling and
enlarging the lines. He observed that the light now played better upon
these enlarged lines; the refraction of light upon these amplified
surfaces was softer, the hardness of the cut-out outline vanished,
and a radiant zone shaped itself around his figures and united them
gradually with the atmosphere. In this way, therefore, by means of
this systematic accentuation of the outlines, an intermediate tone, _a
radiancy of the forms,_ was produced.

Rodin understood at once that he had found his way to the deepest
secret of his art; that is to say, to the ideal limit where through its
hidden laws a plastic art touches the other arts in a negation of all
that is merely materialistic. The intermediate tones in painting, the
radiating surfaces in sculpture, are the same principle as the nervous
radiations noted in photographing a hand, where it may be seen that
the fingers are prolonged by emanations. Nothing is fixed, limited,
or finished in nature, and the radiating state is the only real one.
But this was a dangerous discovery for a sculptor, since people would
immediately exclaim upon the _deformation_ _of what was seen_, the
alteration of the fact, the falsification of anatomy. Therefore Rodin
proceeded in silence and with very great prudence. The point was not,
of course, _to enlarge_ _all surfaces equally_, for that would have
produced only an increase of scale. The thing was _to amplify_, with
tact, _certain parts of the modelling_, the edges of which were swept
by the light, so as to give a halo to the outline. At the same time,
Rodin experimented in a series of drawings made on purpose, forbidding
himself to give any detail, tracing only the outlines of bodies filled
in with one wash of water-colour that gave the _value._ I shall return
to these sketches. They cannot be understood without a knowledge of
their original purpose.

This theory, to which Rodin approved of my giving the name of
_deliberate amplification of surfaces_, is simply the critical
principle of Greek sculpture, which has been entirely misunderstood
by the academic school. That school, which is supposed to honour the
Greeks, is really false to their spirit and their teaching. Moreover,
this principle, which belongs to all the primitive statuary that
was made for the open air, is to be found among the Egyptians and
the Assyrians. It calls in question the academic tradition whereby
_exactitude_ is confounded with _truth._ In reality it may be said
to be a profoundly classic principle which has been denied by the
academic school. Here, as in painting, classicism is opposed to the
academic. Hence it should be concluded that in reality Rodin is by
no means an _innovator_ opposing himself to a school that retains
classic traditions, but, speaking precisely, a classic, returning to
nature, replacing himself in the state of mind of a Greek before his
model, and opposing himself to a school that has overloaded art with
methods, formulas, and expedients that change the character of antique
and Gothic art. Rodin has a horror of what is called "originality,"
and an even greater horror of what is called "inspiration." He only
trusts completely to work and to minute, sincere observation of nature.
"Slowness is a beauty," he often says. He has the greatest antipathy
for "sculpture with literary meanings," and has often been galled,
without saying so, by certain praises, in which writers, reeling off
pages of description about his works, have thought to please him by
dwelling on the idea and not on the execution. "I invent nothing,"
he says; "I rediscover. And the thing seems new because people have
generally lost sight of the aim and the means of art; they take
that for an innovation which is nothing but a return to the laws of
the great sculpture of long ago. Obviously, I think; I like certain
symbols, I see things in a synthetic way, but it is nature that gives
me all that. I do not imitate the Greeks; I try to put myself in the
spiritual state of the men who have left us the antique statues. The
'École' copies their works; the thing that signifies is to _recover
their method._ I began by showing close studies from nature like _The
Age of Brass._ Afterwards I came to understand that art required a
little more largeness, a little exaggeration, and my whole aim, from
the time of the _Burghers_, was to find a method of exaggerating
logically: that method consists in the deliberate amplification of the
modelling. It consists also in the constant reduction of the figure to
a geometrical figure, and in the determination to sacrifice any part of
a figure to the synthesis of its aspect. See what the Gothic sculptors
did. Look at the cathedral of Chartres; one of the towers is massive
and without ornament: they sacrificed it to give value to the exquisite
delicacy of the other tower.

"In sculpture the projection of the muscular _fasciculi_ must be
accentuated, the foreshortening forced, the hollows deepened; sculpture
is the art of the hole and the lump, not of clear, well-smoothed,
unmodelled figures. Ignorant people, when they see close-knitted true
surfaces, say that 'it is not finished.' No notion is falser than that
of _finish_ unless it be that of _elegance_; by means of these two
ideas people would kill our art. The way to obtain solidity and life is
by work carried out to the fullest, not in the direction of achievement
and of copying details, but in that of truth in the successive
schemes. The public, perverted by academic prejudices, confounds art
with neatness. The simplicity of the 'École' is a painted cardboard
ideal. A cast from life is a copy, the exactest possible copy, and
yet it has neither motion nor eloquence. Art intervenes to exaggerate
certain surfaces, and also to fine down others. In sculpture everything
depends upon the way in which the modelling is carried out with a
constant thought of the main line of the scheme, upon the rendering of
the hollows, of the projections and of their connections; thus it is
that one may get fine lights, and especially fine shadows that are not
opaque. Everything should be emphasised according to the accent that
it is desired to render, and the degree of amplification is personal,
according to the tact and the temperament of each sculptor; and for
this reason there is no transmissible process, no studio recipe, but
only a true law. I see it in the antique and in Michael Angelo. To work
by the profiles, in depth not by surfaces, always thinking of the few
geometrical forms from which all nature proceeds, and to make these
eternal forms perceptible in the individual case of the object studied,
that is my criterion. That is not idealism, it is a part of the
handicraft. My ideas have nothing to do with it but for that method; my
Danaids and my Dante figures would be weak, bad things. From the large
design that I get your mind deduces ideas."

Rodin, then, is convinced that he is classical, and rebels against the
"École" which claims to be so. He has the greatest admiration for the
Renascence, but declares that he does not so clearly understand the
genius of the Gothic sculptors. He admires it, but has not thoroughly
penetrated it. "I feel it, but I cannot express it," he says. "I cannot
analyse the Celtic genius to my own satisfaction. In the Middle Ages
art came from groups, not from individuals. It was anonymous; the
sculptors of cathedrals no more put their names to their works than
our workmen put theirs on the pavement that they lay. Ah! what an
admirable scorn of notoriety! The signature is what destroys us. We do
portraits, but what we do is not so great. These kings and queens, on
the cathedrals, were not portraits. The fellow-workers stood for one
another, and they interpreted; they did not copy. They made clothed
figures; the nude and portraiture only date from the Renascence. And
then those fellows cut with the tool's end into the block, that is why
they were called sculptors. As for us, we are modellers. And what a
disgraceful thing that casting from life is, which so many well-known
sculptors do not blush to use! It is a mere swindling in art. Art was
a vital function to the image-makers of the thirteenth century; they
would have laughed at the idea of signing what they did, and never
dreamed of honours and titles. When once their work was finished,
they said no more about it, or else they talked among themselves.
How curious it would have been to hear them, to be present at their
gatherings, where they must have discussed in amusing phrases, and with
simple, deep ideas!... Whenever the cathedrals disappear civilisation
will go down one step. And even now we no longer understand them, we
no longer know how to read their silent language. _We need to make
excavations not in the earth, but towards heaven._..." An admirable
saying that Rodin has often repeated to me and that I have never heard
without deep emotion! He has the secret of these true formulas, and
his words, which are not eloquent, but, rather, obscure, are suddenly
lighted up by them. His speech, like his sculpture, is born from
sincere contact with the essence of nature. In regard to the Renascence
and Michael Angelo, he reports that he received no decisive lesson
from either until after a journey to Italy in 1875. "I believed before
that," he says, "that movement was the whole secret of this art, and
I put my models into positions like those of Michael Angelo. But
as I went on observing the free attitudes of my models I perceived
that they possessed these _naturally_, and that Michael Angelo had
not preconceived them, but merely transcribed them according to the
personal inspiration of human beings moved by the need of action. I
went to Rome to look for what may be found everywhere: _the latent
heroic in every natural movement._ [4]

"Then I gathered the elements of what people call my symbolism. I do
not understand anything about long words and theories. But I am willing
to be a symbolist, if that defines the ideas that Michael Angelo gave
me, namely that the essence of sculpture is the modelling, the general
scheme which alone enables us to render the intensity, the supple
variety of movement and character. If we can imagine the thought of
God in creating the world, He thought first of the construction, which
is the sole principle of nature, of living things and perhaps of the
planets. Michael Angelo seems to me rather to derive from Donatello
than from the ancients; Raphael proceeds from them. He understood that
an architecture can be built up with the human body, and that, in
order to possess volume and harmony, a statue or a group ought to be
contained in a cube, a pyramid; or some simple figure. Let us look at a
Dutch interior and at an interior painted by an artist of the present
day. The latter no longer touches us, because it does not possess the
qualities of depth and volume, the science of distances. The artist who
paints it does not know how to reproduce a cube. An interior by Van
der Meer is a cubic painting. The atmosphere is in it and the exact
volume of the objects; the place of these objects has been respected,
the modern painter places them, arranges them as models. The Dutchmen
did not touch them, but set themselves to render the distances that
separated them, that is, the depth. And then, if I go so far as to say
that _cubic truth, not appearance, is the mistress of things,_ if I
add that the sight of the plains and woods and country views gives me
the principle of the plans that I employ on my statues, that I feel
cubic truth everywhere, and that plan and volume appear to me as laws
of all life and all beauty, will it be said that I am a symbolist, that
I generalise, that I am a metaphysician? It seems to me that I have
remained a sculptor and a realist. Unity oppresses and haunts me."

"What," says Rodin again, "is the principle of my figures, and
what is it that people like in them? It is the very pivot of art,
it is balance; that is to say, the oppositions of volume produced
by movement. That is the striking, material fact in art, with all
due deference to those persons who conceive art as distinct from
'brutal' reality. Art is like love. For many people it is a dream, a
psychological complication, a palace, a perfume, a stage scene; but
nothing of the sort! The essential of love is the pairing; all the
rest is only detail, charming, and full of passion, but detail. It is
the same in art: people come and praise my symbols and my expressions
to me; but I know that the plans are the essential thing. Respect the
plan, make it exact from every point; movement intervenes, displaces
these volumes and creates a fresh balance. The human body is like a
_walking temple,_ and like a temple it has a central point around which
the volumes place and spread themselves. When one understands that,
one has everything. It is simple, but it must be seen, and academism
refuses to see it. Instead of recognising that that is the key to my
method they prefer to say that I am a poet. That expression signifies
that people feel, confusedly, the difference between an art resting
on conventions and one derived from truth; only they think that the
'poetic' art is the conventional one. They call that _inspiration._
That is the belief that has led to the theory of genius being madness.
But men of genius are just those _who, by their trade-skill, carry the
essential thing to perfection._ People say that my sculpture _is that
of an 'exalté.'[5]_

"I do not deny that there is exaltation in my works; but that
exaltation existed not in me, but in nature, in movement. The divine
work is naturally exalted. As for me, all I do is to be true; my
temperament is not 'exalted'; it is patient. I am not a dreamer,
but a mathematician; and if my sculpture is good it is because it is
geometrical."

From these fragments of conversation the reader will conceive how
Rodin's generalising spirit leads him from the realism of his daily
work to the synthesis of a sort of ideo-realistic metaphysical system.
He has the sense (belonging only to genius) of the _continuity of
the universe_, and he certainly had it at a time when, unlettered
as he was, he would not have known how to explain it specifically
to himself. He constantly formulates this metaphysical system, as I
have seen it formulated by Stéphane Mallarmé, who could never see
anything without instantly bringing together two ideas or images that
no one would ever have thought of connecting. Spontaneous analogy
is the mark of genius and the secret of all real poetry. This is
why I consider Rodin as a very great poet--not in the sense that he
dislikes, but on the contrary, by giving to the word "poet" its deep
etymological significance according to the Greek, that of "making,
creating, vivifying." We may understand, too, in how great a degree an
intellectuality of this kind offers a living challenge to the ideas
of the "École." The man who thinks thus is necessarily isolated and
has struggled all his life, never making a concession and saying
nobly, "The artist, like the woman, has an honour to preserve." I will
further quote from Rodin the following reflection[6]: "Where you follow
nature, you get everything. When I have a beautiful woman's body for
a model the drawings that I make from it give me images of insects,
birds, and fishes. That seems improbable, and I had no suspicion of
it myself. Formerly I used to be seeking shapes for vases, either to
use them at Sèvres, where I used to work, or elsewhere.... I never
succeeding in finding a beauty of proportions and lines such as I had
the feeling of, because I only founded my attempts upon _imagination._
Since that time I have drawn women's bodies, and one of these bodies
gave me, in the synthesis of it, a magnificent shape for a vase, with
true and harmonious lines. The point is not to create. Creation and
improvisation are useless words. Genius only comes to the man who
understands with his eye and his brain. Everything is in the things
about us. Manufacture and ornamental art want reforming according to
these ideas. I should have liked to see that. Everything-is contained
in nature. There is an harmonious, continual, uninterrupted movement. A
woman, a mountain, a horse, in conception they are all the same thing,
they are made on the same principles. Young artists compose instead of
following their models and understanding that therein lies infinity."
Here Rodin directly touches a scientific truth--the relative monotony
of Nature's productive forms. Nature does everything with very few
forms: the variations are so infinite that there are no two leaves
alike, but the nerves of a leaf, the lines of a vein, an artery, a
bird's wing, a fishbone, a nerve-cell, are identical; multiplicity
derives from identity and returns to it, so that everything is reduced
to a fundamental geometry which perhaps is but the effect of a single
cellular generation. In this respect the laws of art and of science
are the same, even as among all the arts there is a synthesis of
common laws, an identity where we seem to behold a difference. Recent
work in science, by establishing the existence of states of radiation
(Crookes, Röntgen, Hertz) is busy undermining our old conception of
matter, showing us the identity of it with the immaterial, and thereby
abolishing our preconceptions about the idea and the fact, music and
sculpture, considered as different manifestations. I remember that I
one day kept Rodin's curiosity excited for a long time by explaining
the details of this theory to him; he was not acquainted with it,
and listened to me as to a writer in love with general ideas. But it
was clear that in his mere province as a sculptor he knew far better
and had penetrated far more deeply into this enthralling problem of
identity. His is a luminous mind, of the same kind as the electric
rays; it rather penetrates than surrounds what is obscure to it. On
that day he was disturbed, and I was irritated by certain declamations
which had been written about his "philosophy," and of which the author
had assuredly not comprehended the logical consequences; and we came
to the conclusion that it would be much better for Rodin's peace of
mind to keep silent upon these points, for his "philosophy" could only
be made comprehensible to those who could understand the method of his
sculpture.

It is time, however, to pause in this path and to return simply to
the question of sculpture. Nor was it my purpose to tire the reader
by these abstractions when I began to say a few words about Rodin's
opinions concerning the antique. It must be understood, then, that the
_Balzac_ and even the _Hugo_, as well as some figures, were the result
of all these preceding reflections. "When I saw my _Balzac_ brought
into the yard from the storehouse of the statues in order to go to
the Salon," says Rodin, "I had it purposely placed beside _The Kiss,_
which had been finished rather earlier. I was not dissatisfied with the
simplified vigour of that group, to which I had already applied these
experiments. But I saw that it looked slack, that it did not hold its
place beside the _Balzac_ as Michael Angelo's torso does beside a fine
antique, and then I understood that I was in the right path. I have
had hesitations, you know, pangs that I do not speak of. And then,
little by little, as I looked at nature, as I came to understand it
better and to throw aside my prejudices more frankly, I took courage.
It seemed to me that I was doing better. When I began I did skilful
things, things that were smartly done, but they were thin and dry, but
I felt there was something beyond, and that something is amplification.
I only ventured on it when I was over fifty years old, but do you not
think I have a right now to disregard the objections of the mob and the
newspapers? I have taken time to know why I was doing as I did. The
essential things of my modelling are there, and they would be there
in less degree if I 'finished' more. As to polishing or repolishing a
toe or a curl, I find no interest in it; it impairs the large line,
the soul of what I desired to do, and I have nothing more to say to
the public on that point. There the line of demarcation comes between
the confidence that the public ought to have in me and the concessions
that I ought not to make to the public." To this firm and discreet
resolution Rodin has kept in all the works wrought out by him since
1898.

[Illustration: PRIMITIVE MAN.]

I cannot better set forth his opinions about the antique than by
quoting the following fragments from two articles that he wrote for
the _Musée_, a review of ancient art, in January and February, 1904;
for Rodin sometimes writes, quite unpretentiously, but with the same
lucidity of thought that he shows in his familiar conversation. One of
these articles refers to a Greek statuette in the Museum of Naples, the
other to the lesson that the ancients give us.

"In the first place, the Antique is Life itself. Nothing is more alive,
and no style in the world has rendered life as it has. The ancients
were the greatest, most serious, and most admirable observers of nature
who have ever existed. The antique was able to render life because
the ancients saw the essential thing in it--large blocks. They confined
themselves to the large shadows cast by these large blocks, and as
truth itself lies in that, their figures being so made could never be
feeble. Moreover, the antique is simple, and that gives it astonishing
energy. And then there is much more study in it than appears; that
was brought home to me once. When I had finished my _Age of Brass_, I
went to Italy and I found an Apollo whose leg was in exactly the same
position as one in _The Age of Brass_ that had taken me six months'
work. Then I saw that though on the surface everything seems to be done
at a stroke, in reality all the muscles are built up and one sees the
details come to light one by one. That is because the ancients studied
everything in its successive profiles, because in any figure and every
part of a figure no profile is like another; when each has been studied
separately the whole appears simple and alive.

"The great error of the neo-Greek school is really this: it is not
_type_ that is antique, but modelling. For want of having understood
that, the neo-Greek school has produced nothing but papier-mâché. It
is bad to put the antique before beginners; one should end, not begin
with it. If you wanted to teach someone to eat, you would give him
fresh food, that he might learn to chew; it would never occur to you
to give him food already triturated to exercise his teeth upon. Well,
when you want to teach sculpture to anyone, set him face to face with
nature, and when he has gained plenty of power to deal with nature,
then say to him: 'Now, here is what the antique has done.' And that
will give him a new source of energy. Whereas if you give the antique
to the beginner who has never struggled with nature, he does not
understand anything about it, and loses his individuality over it.
You make a plagiarist of him, and instead of making his own prayer to
nature he will repeat the prayer of the antique without understanding
the words of it. He will die an old pupil; he will not die a man.

"To teach the antique at the outset of a man's studies is to render
the antique incomprehensible. In the first place, no one can teach the
antique, it is not possible; that art of truth and simplicity cannot
be taught. The sculptor works from nature, and afterwards he goes to
look, in the galleries, and see how the antique rendered what he has
been trying for from the life. But if he goes straight to the antique,
shutting his eyes to nature, as the antique has always been done from
nature, our sculptor will only be able to carry that vision into his
own work in a factitious way; he will be neither antique nor modern,
but bad.

"A man may do antique work in our day, not in the false sense of
producing the _antique type,_ but in the true sense of _modelling
like the antique._ Such a man (painter, etcher, or sculptor) will
take nature, and if he has the power of the antique he will produce
antique work, which will entirely disagree with what is taught as
such, but will agree with that in the museums. The 'École' begins
at the end; when a man begins with nature, he may go on to the most
improbable inventions; the antiques themselves show that. Do you know
of anything more impossible than the centaur? But is there anything
finer in Olympia? The ancients knew nature so well that they became her
fellow-workers and created, not phantoms, but beings that were alive in
spite of physical impossibilities. To my mind it would be better not
to study the antique than to study it wrong. It is not the artist's
alphabet, but the reward of his work. The command which it gives us is
not to copy it, but to do like it.

[Illustration: YOUNG WOMAN BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL COUNCIL.]

"To say that the antiques, which portray the plain marvel of life,
are beautiful is a superficial sort of praise. Beauty is not the
starting-point, but the point of arrival; a thing can only be beautiful
if it is true. Truth itself is only a complete harmony, and harmony
is finally only a bundle of utilities. The miracle of life could not
be perpetuated but for the constant renewal of universal balance. The
ancients felt that vast rhythm, and their art, being modelled upon it,
appears to us as a natural and sublime expression of beauty.... One
of the ancients made a statue. How did he set about it? It is useless
to bring in rules that only grew up in the brains of commentators
dissecting a series of works, centuries afterwards. The antique remains
uncomprehended because we have not a simple enough spirit. It is not
by studying the antique that we shall learn its secret; in order to
understand, not its nomenclature, but its spirit, we must begin by
studying nature. Rembrandt cannot be understood by copying him at the
Louvre, he can only be understood when we travel through nature to him.
Well, nature is always there, waiting patiently for antiques to be
made afresh; the model is there waiting for someone to come at last,
no matter whence. For it is an error to think the antique comes from
the south: it comes from everywhere. The antique can be produced from a
Dutch woman or an American woman; the type is nothing, the modelling is
everything.

"What makes the strength of the antique is the plan, the connection of
all the profiles. The neo-Greeks say: 'The antiques are _line,_ and
their works, in which all the lines, except two, dance about, show
their error. The antiques, we will say, are _lines_ or rather _plan._
Look at an antique; you can guess the full face from the profile.
The eye cannot grasp the shape on the opposite side to that which it
beholds, but it deduces it from this side: walk round, and the study
of the profiles will afford you an _irrefragable_ proof by _rule of
three._ The sculptor swells the half-tones by slight exaggerations, so
as to heighten the light by a tone. The drapery lives; like the body
that it hides, it receives life from that body without needing the
subterfuge of wetted drapery.'[7]

"There is in the antiques an astonishing mystery of life which causes
all idea of dimension to disappear. A figure an inch or two high
might just as well be life-size; when a thing is well organised, the
greatness is in the modelling and not in the size. If one were to
photograph a Tanagra figure and the Eiffel Tower, and were to show the
two photographs to some person unacquainted with either object, I am
sure he would declare the Tanagra figure to be larger than the tower. A
pear or an apple, from the point of view of modelling, is as large as
the celestial sphere. Thus the splendour of truth is such that finding
no word to render it, we have called it 'Ideal.'"

These quotations will suffice, I hope, to show Rodin's inmost thought.
These judgments are implicit condemnations of the "École"; they are
also definitions of his classical art, which is by no means "literary,"
and which is governed, even in its lyrical and tragic developments,
by good sense, that is to say, by an inborn taste for balance in the
midst of boldness. If I am anxious to insist so strongly upon Rodin's
profound _normality_, this is, I repeat, in order to forewarn the
public against the declamations of some of his untoward admirers, who
reckon one of his merits to be an "originality" which they confound
with that exaggeration, that emphasis and eccentricity that never mark
the great artist. Whatever tragic or passionate subject a great artist
may treat, to whatever height of strangeness his imagination may rise,
beauty of form will, if he is, like Rodin, a master of _technique_,
confer upon _t_ him an exalted and permanent serenity. Rembrandt and
Delacroix come from the depth of their vastly differing worlds to meet
Raphael and Watteau in that conciliatory region where we admire the
great masters--and Rodin is already placed in that region.


[1] Rodin has never forgotten Falguière's loyalty at the time of _The
Age of Brass_ affair.

[2] A recent example in Paris is the double statue of the chemists
who invented quinine. When will people understand that a discovery
of this kind, however honourable, is nevertheless quite incapable of
being associated with any plastic idea? The same thing is true of the
statues of Chappe and Lavoisier, flanked by instruments of telegraphy
and chemistry. These are ridiculous signboards, melancholy compliments
translated by a tradesman's art that renders our streets hideous.

[3] _Revue des Revues_ (of Paris), June 15th, 1898.

[4] I find myself underlining-: it is not Rodin whose voice makes this
emphasis. But I am attempting to mark out in this way the formulas
which spring up in his conversation, and which, collected together,
will give the public an idea of his instinctive synthesis, deduced from
life.

[5] The word _exalté_ has in this use no precise equivalent in English.
"Enthusiast," as the eighteenth century knew the word--that is, with
the infusion of a touch of lunacy--conies perhaps nearest.--TRANS.

[6] An observation noted by Mlle. Judith Cladel in her curious volume,
_Rodin, drawn from life._ (Éditions de La Plume, 1903.)

[7] Loïe Fuller has obtained, by means of stuffs not wetted, the
effects that the 'École' loves, because her plastic dance is logically
derived from nature.



IV


WORKS SINCE THE "BALZAC"--SMALL WORKS IN MARBLE--PLAN OF THE MONUMENT
TO LABOUR--DRAWINGS AND ETCHINGS


"I shun father and mother and wife and brother, when my genius calls
me. I would write on the lintels of the door-post, _Whim._ I hope it
is somewhat better than whim at last, but we cannot spend the day in
explanation.... Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist ... must
not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must inquire if it be
goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind.
Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world."

I quoted these high-minded words of Emerson's to Rodin at the time of
the _Balzac_ incident. "They are," I said to him, "the very epigraph
of your whole life." Nor have they ceased to epitomise the man and
the artist. From the time of the _Balzac_ Rodin's work has proceeded
very regularly and on the same principles. The _Victor Hugo_ is being
finished in marble, in its two versions, in the studio of the Rue de
l'Université. The group in which Hugo, his extended arm commanding
silence of the waves, sits surrounded by Muses is almost ready; the
other, in which Hugo, dreamily listening to the counsels of Iris,
stands on the edge of a rock washed by waves, amid which Nereids are
entwined, is not quite so far advanced. _The Gate of Hell_ is ready
to receive its finally chosen and ordered figures. In the Salon of
1902 Rodin exhibited the three _Shades_ from its summit, inspired by
the celebrated _Lasciate ogni speransa._ In 1900 Rodin only showed
two or three old productions at the Universal Exhibition, because his
work was collected in a special pavilion at the Rond-point de l'Alma,
the concession of which pavilion was made uncomfortable for him by
his colleagues, so much so that the artist was obliged to remove on
the very day of closing, with less delay and consideration allowed to
him than to the most unimportant industrial exhibitor. This special
exhibition was, nevertheless, a great international success for Rodin,
and the amazing development of his fame may be said to date from it.
Before 1900 Rodin stood in the position of an exceptional artist,
celebrated but envied, isolated and challenged, whose relations with
the Government were strained, whom a minority upheld, but on whom the
official world looked coldly. Since that time his eminence is so firmly
established that he now holds the rank that Puvis de Chavannes held
in the estimation of all artists. His triumphant journey to Prague
(1901-2), London's enthusiastic reception, and Rodin's recent election
to be President of the Society over which Whistler presided, have
finally given him the acknowledgment so long looked for. In 1903 his
marble bust of Hugo aroused enthusiasm, and at the Salon of 1904 the
colossal bronze _Thinker_ had a most flattering reception, and disarmed
the last of his former detractors.

A woman's bust accompanied _The Thinker_ to the Salon. Rodin, who does
portraits now and again, had previously made an admirable one of Mme.
Fenaille, wife of the art-patron who had been of such great service
to him; and he is attempting a curious variation of it. He has just
finished a bust of a helmeted Minerva, as impressive as a Donatello,
and this, too, is a portrait.

Various works have been produced by Rodin since the _Balzac,_ in
addition to the _Monument of President Sarmiento,_ which shows an
admirable bas-relief of a radiant Apollo. These works are nearly all
in marble, and small. It is almost impossible to describe and classify
them; a much larger book would be required, and my main purpose here
has been to give a general idea of Rodin's art and an explanation
of principles. I have spoken about some of his poems of the flesh,
especially that _Eternal Idol_, which will be the glory of thought
in modern sculpture. Rodin's recent works in marble have the same
inspiration. Some demand special notice: _The Hand of God,_ a gigantic
hand, between the fingers of which, and amid a handful of clay, two
beings are tenderly embracing; _Icarus,_ falling from the sky to be
crushed on the earth amid his whirling wings; several groups of lovers,
entwined, and breathing immeasurable tenderness, the most celebrated
of which is _Spring_ or _Love and Psyche._ Another _Psyche,_ alone,
is discovering Love asleep, with extraordinary restrained emotion;
and there are several attempts at _Poets and Muses,_ embracing or
consoling one another, as well as a splendid sketch of the _Magdalen
wiping Christ's Body with her Hair._ Rodin has thus sometimes touched
religious subjects, but with an undogmatic symbolism, philosophic
and wide. We may also enumerate another version in marble of the
_Nereids_ of the Hugo monument, a winged _Inspiration_ coming to
breathe upon the sleeping poet, and holding back the tips of her
wings with one hand lest she should make a sound in closing them; a
faun drawing towards him a nymph, who struggles in silent, fierce
resistance; two high-reliefs of _Summer_ and _Autumn_ in stone; tall
women with children, intended for the town of Evian, where Baron
Vitta is accumulating treasures of modern art; _Pygmalion_ beholding
his statue come to life, who, as soon as she feels herself live,
turns from him with a surprising movement of coquetry and aversion.
Such works as these cannot be described in words. In them Rodin has
excelled to an unparalleled degree in rendering the profoundest
psychological complexities, refined intentions, and the hesitations
of feeling. I will further note a sketch of _Sappho_, seated at
rest, with her arms leaning upon two little naked women, which is a
work inspired equally by the Greeks and by the eighteenth century;
it bears witness to the artist's wish of avoiding the massive, and
making as many holes as possible within the general block, so as to
give lightness and to allow a circulation of light, as the Greeks
did in works that were meant to stand against a background of sea or
of sky. Many studies of men and women crouching, or squatting, in
curious attitudes, recall the art of the Japanese bronzes, which Rodin
immensely admires. We must further note some groups of _Women Damned,_
in which Rodin's art attains the highest point of voluptuous tension,
audacious suggestiveness, and tragic eagerness of the flesh aspiring
to impossible delight. This whole world of figures is ruled by the
same lyrical and poetic imagination, the same symbolism incarnated
in impeccable forms. Everywhere we find the same nervous art,
agitating, sad, and ardent in its voluptuous character, expressing the
insatiability of human souls; the aspiration of a troubled time towards
an ideality which would deliver it from the solicitations of pessimism;
the hope of escape by the way of desire; and love sought for in the
over-excitement of neurosis. Rodin, gloomy psychologist of passion,
understands the disease of the age, and at the same time pities it; a
true thinker, he extracts its mournful beauty without ceasing to retain
faith, admiration, and affection for the human creature. Bending over
life and over his work, he is himself his own _Thinker_, attentive and
reverent before an unknown and terrible divinity. Never did any other
sculptor attempt to vivify his art with such intellectual superiority
and by such meditations, and Rodin is at once the most realistic and
most metaphysical of poets in stone and bronze.

[Illustration: ISIS]

Two or three works of more important dimensions stand out from his
recent productions; besides a nude female torso (in bronze) of
startling truthfulness, and two plaster studies that astonished at
the Salons, and besides _The Christian Martyr_, so masterly in its
modelling, Rodin has continued to work at his _Ugolino,_ taken out of
_The Gate of Hell_, and has put the finishing touch to two plans. One
of these is the _Monument to Labour_, a grand conception, which one may
dream of seeing carried out and rising up in some square of busy Paris,
but which want of money will prevent from ever being realised. It is a
column upon a vast rectangular base, with a crypt in it. Two colossal
figures of _Night_ and _Day_ would stand at the entrance. In the crypt
would be shown, in bas-relief, different subterranean works--mining,
etc. Around the column would run a covered spiral staircase, and upon
the column itself would be figured in bas-reliefs all the various
manifestations of labour, so that as one ascended the stairs all the
divers phases of human genius could be successively studied. On the
top would hover the _Benedictions_, two--winged spirits, descended
from heaven, which are already executed in marble on a small scale,
and are among Rodin's finest conceptions. This colossal project was
conceived as long ago as 1897. The rough model is in the studio at
Meudon-Val-Fleury.

[Illustration: NUDE STUDY]

The monument to Puvis de Chavannes was entrusted to his friend Rodin,
and is already finished. Rodin conceived it in an original and charming
way. Instead of making the customary statue, he considered the purely
Greek quality of Puvis' genius and chose to pay homage to him in a form
reproduced from the antique. The bust of the great painter is placed
on a plain table, as the ancients placed those of their dead upon
little domestic altars. A fine tree loaded with fruit bends over and
shades the head. Leaning on the table behind the bust is a beautiful
naked youth, who sits dreaming in a well-chosen supple attitude. The
whole design is intimate, gentle, and pure. Placed on the ground in a
garden this votive monument would show how much delicacy and caressing
lightness sometimes lies in Rodin's sombre and pathetic thoughts.

Another important group is that of _Orpheus and Eurydice._ Orpheus has
fallen on one knee and is lifting his great lyre towards the gods whom
he has just implored. Above him, almost on his back, suspended in a
way that would appear to contradict the laws of equilibrium and the
material conditions of sculpture, soars Eurydice, compassionate and
almost vaporous, truly an immaterial shade, with a smile of despair.
I regret that the unfinished condition of this model does not allow
me to publish a photograph of it, for nothing would give a clearer
impression of Rodin's originality in the matter of contour and in the
mutual relation of figures. The extreme freedom of his attitudes and
his caprices of balance are, indeed, the newest features that he has
brought into his art and are not to be found in anyone else in any
country or time. In these is his true signature, and by them his work
might be recognised among a hundred statues of all periods. As to the
expressive beauty of the faces and bodies, that is supreme. No one has
better comprehended than Rodin all that can be rendered by the naked
human body and all the intellectual significations that it can hide.
The nude is to Rodin a whole language.

In his latest spiritualised works there is something Correggio-like
in the vibration of light upon the softened forms and amplified
surfaces. They suggest the _Antiope,_ at once soft and muscular, and
Rodin often speaks of "morbidezza" as a quality which he no longer
distrusts, whereas he formerly banished it from his ascetic, sinewy,
and dry figures. He gives his women the pulpy flesh of fruits. The
lines of landscape seem to him to correspond to the planes of the body;
he lately said to me that since he has lived at Meudon, opposite the
flowing Seine, the wooded hills and the fields, he has found useful
resemblances between the modelling of the body and that of a horizon. I
have even once suggested to him the title of "The Hill" for the body of
a young man reclining, the outline of which did in truth resemble the
undulations of a hill, and he retained the name and the analogy, for he
delights in everything that binds the human being to the earth, and,
like a true metaphysician, conceives of nothing isolated or distinct in
nature.

I come now to Rodin's drawings, drawings which were not made to be
shown, but which, having nevertheless become known, have surprised
and puzzled people. Rodin's drawings, like some other drawings by
sculptors, are not themselves works of art; they are thoughts noted
down, and are not comprehensible unless they are seen with the statues
of which they indicate the first idea, or some variation.

Rodin has published some of his sketches; and has produced some
dry-points (in particular the _Ronde_,[1] _Antonin Proust_, the three
portraits of Henry Becque, full face and two profiles upon the same
sheet, and two heads of Hugo), some drawings for books by M. Mirbeau
and M. Bergerat, and a complete set of illustrations of the _Fleurs
du Mal,_ in the form of marginal drawings for a unique copy belonging
to M. Gallimard. Many drawings in black or colour have been published
(by the clever lithographer Clot), and M. Fenaille has superintended
an admirable _edition de luxe_ of 142 drawings by Rodin.[2]
Notwithstanding this partial publicity, these works must be considered
as _standing apart;_ and to consider them by themselves would actually
be to injure Rodin with the public at large, since they form an
integral part of his statues. For this reason I have not chosen to
reproduce any of them here, studies so purely professional not seeming
to fall within the scope of a work intended to give a general idea of
an artist's work.

Having said so much, I wish to dwell upon the great beauty of these
drawings--a special and terrible beauty. Many deal with Dante. Rodin
did some painting under Lecoq de Boisbaudron, landscapes, a portrait
of his father, and sketches after Rubens; but there has never been
any danger of painting intruding upon his vocation, and his sketches
rapidly became nothing but notes for sculpture. The objective reality
of his Dantesque figures is vague, if their subjective reality is
intense. Rodin, anxious to note down his impressions, and not to
_illustrate_, made his sketches into a sort of passionate writing, only
devoting himself to the scheme and to the contrasts of black and white,
and neglecting every detail. In these violent washes, these pencillings
and pen-scribbles, the spectator who is not forewarned sees nothing,
but the lover of art, who knows beforehand what to seek, follows the
creative thought. Nothing can be less like what is generally known as
"a drawing." After the regular drawings, the "painter's drawings" of
his first period, which have but a restricted interest, and which are
no longer known, those of his second manner are confusions of light and
shadow, and show fantastically. I will quote at this point a passage
from an essay by M. Clément Jasmin, a discerning critic, whose noisy
rivals do not give him his due place, and who has described these works
excellently.

"These sketches are altogether the work of a sculptor, even in their
colour, which seems to have sunk into plaster or clay, and especially
in the firmness of their modelling, which is imparted by shaded touches
of body-colour, on grey paper, or rendered by spaces left white. These
blanks, these white spaces, are the extreme point of the modelling,
the 'high light' of some projection, which lower down is wrapped in
half-tints that carry the eye to the shadows of the inflections or
the hollows. There is a constant relation between the contour and
the interior modelling. A thrill is communicated by the fantastic
lighting of some sketches. Rodin adds further strength to this dramatic
distribution of lights and shadows by one or two tones that accentuate
the impression or fix a plan. Often his ink will become blue or yellow,
(water-colours, sepia, or coloured inks being employed), in order to
settle a value or intensify a feeling. Such is the case in the Fenaille
publication, with the gloomy red in the face of the Ugolino, of the
Dantesque Mahomet, whose entrails are hanging out, and of some other
figures dashed in, in black, on a violet background. One plainly feels
the material in which the work, of which the sketch is the first idea,
will be executed. It is always a sculptor who is at work, even when he
exchanges the chisel for the pen or the brush."

Painters would scorn these drawings. They commonly believe that
sculptors cannot express upon a plane surface the mass and movement of
a body. In reality a painter's sketch and a sculptor's sketch differ
in intention and execution. Rodin's are translations of movements,
in no way decorative and not attempting to express either modelling
or detail, but, if we may say so, the abstract geometry, the thought
that commands the movement. The use of coloured inks, which are solely
meant to modify certain values that black or white would not express to
Rodin's mind, has given rise to mistakes. These colours are not there
to express real tints, as is the case in ordinary drawings thus touched
up; inaccurate things have been said about these colourings, and about
the fantastic and almost Japanese appearance of some of the plates.
Rodin is certainly not thinking of prints in colour. He makes these
notes instinctively, and displays not so much a deliberate thought as a
natural faculty of transcription.

In his early drawings Rodin _refers to_--for I must insist upon the
point that the drawings do not _represent_ things--many of Dante's
persons and many fanciful animals, and later, to his statues. Now he
does not draw at all from literary impressions, but solely from the
living model. He uses ordinary cheap paper, a pencil or a pen; he
makes his model take some transitory, absolutely free position, often
in the rest between two sittings, and rapidly draws contour without
taking his eyes from the model and without looking at his sketch.
Sometimes the stroke will fall upon emptiness, the sheet of paper will
be too small, a head or a limb will fail to find its place. Naturally
this instantaneous sketch will be deformed in the most unexpected
way; the proportions are false, but the scheme of the contour and the
modelling of each piece are true. Often the hurrying pencil will miss
the curve of a breast or a leg. Then the artist will return to that
point with hasty, intermingled, impatient strokes that play around the
true line. His only concern is to fix the first view, the absolutely
living impression. Afterwards, in tracing his sketch, he rectifies,
but his chief aim is to amplify the impression of the life, taken
spontaneously, according to his principle of enlarging the form, in
order to place it better in the atmosphere (about in the proportion of
5/4 instead of 4/4). Then he connects the contours and further enlarges
the modelling, filling the outline with a wash of burnt-sienna, which
gives the general value, or sometimes with blue or red water-colour.
Rodin likes this practice in catching movements, and he has in his
studio hundreds of drawings of this kind that differ from his early
ones. Those aimed at the imaginative transcription of tragic and
literary elements under strange illuminations, and were almost like the
drawings of Odilon Redon; the later ones are merely graphic notes of
movements, and are incapable of having any direct aim or meaning.

I must add a few words upon a delicate point of which I should not
have spoken if others had not spoken mistakenly upon the subject.
Rodin's drawings, especially those of the present time, have shocked
some people who have seen them by their licentious character. Why
should we assume embarrassment in explaining this? In all Rodin's work
there is a profound and violent sense of the voluptuous, and the stern
painter of the vices and damnations of hell does not need to think of
prudery. The elevation and dramatic character of his conceptions clothe
the most daring attitudes with the severe chastity of the beautiful.
In his sketches, made for himself alone, and in the privacy of his
studio, Rodin no more fears erotic positions than did Hokusai. Beneath
the original animality he perceives nature; and feminine sexuality,
its movements, and impulses interest him, because therein woman is
psychologically revealed. Everything, in physical desire, that exalts,
maddens, contorts, and fevers the human body is, for the sculptor, the
object of an intensely interested study that he does not communicate
to the general public; nor is he the only one among the great artists
of form whom the erotic has interested from this point of view. Only
mediocre minds and minds capable of low intentions see anything low in
the movements of life. Rodin's studies from the model, naked and free,
without spectators, in the serious presence of work, never sully his
grand and melancholy inspiration; and his daring art is assuredly that
which most leads away the beholder from erotic ideas, because it notes
in every human being the melancholy of the insatiable, and makes the
pleasure of the senses a suffering of the flesh and the spirit. By this
point he touches the profound morality of art, and his consciousness is
free from any equivocation. The recent drawings in which he catches the
animal attitudes of the model are thus no more questionable, from the
delicate point of view of which I am speaking, than anatomical plates,
or the sad immodesties of a post-mortem examination. He adds to them
the power of expressing passion with which he is endowed, but since he
only shows these drawings to friends and artists in whom nudity does
not arouse silly thoughts, this concerns no one else. A comparison
cannot even be ventured between these drawings and the masterly
etchings of Rops, which are deliberate illustrations of licentious
subjects, relieved only by beauty of execution, and which should only
be shown with express reservations. Rodin admires certain bronzes in
the secret museum at Naples, and certain Japanese prints, because in
these, too, art has done its work by expressing a secret and essential
spring of the nervous and psychological life of humanity; a fierce
and serious subject which only fools consider laughable or indecent,
because their minds approach it with indecorum and ridicule. But I
do not know that Rodin ever even yielded to the fancy of modelling
one of these subjects for himself, as Rubens and many others did not
forbid themselves to do. It is time, therefore, to have done with this
question in regard to the great French sculptor. I do not know for whom
he intends these recent drawings, a whole framed collection of which
occupies one of the storerooms of his country house. Perhaps he will
have them destroyed; in any case, they are but studies of movements and
masses, and in no way direct representations of life.

Rodin's drawings are "rough drafts" to be compared with those of
a writer. Some are very impressive, and all constitute precious
evidence of his psychological preoccupations and of his desire for
simplification. But they remain on the margin of his work, and neither
the public nor the critics have those rights over them that belong to
biographers and friends. That is a point to be plainly specified, and
I desire to repeat that that is the reason this book contains none of
them.


[1] This word may mean either a certain sort of dance, or the "round"
of a patrol.--TRANS.

[2] Album of 142 sketches, reproduced in heliogravure by M. Manzi and
published by Goupil, 1897. These sketches in wash or colour have been
selected according to the advice of M. Fenaille, their owner, who lent
them, from the most imaginative of Rodin's drawings in his second
manner.



V.


RODIN'S PRIVATE LIFE--HIS PERSON, STUDIO, AND HOME--HIS INFLUENCE;
SCULPTORS INSPIRED BY HIS IDEAS--RODIN'S PLACE IN THE FRENCH
SCHOOL--HIS PRESENT POSITION IN RESPECT TO ACADEMIC SCULPTURE


Auguste Rodin is in person a man of middle height, with an enormous
head upon a massive torso. At first sight one sees nothing of him but
this leonine bust, the head with its strong nose, flowing grey beard,
and small, keen, light-coloured eyes, slightly veiled by short sight
and by a gentle irony. The impression of power is accentuated by the
rolling gait, the rocky aspect of the troubled brow under the rough
brush of hair, the bony thickness of the aquiline nose and the ample
curls of beard. But the first impression is partly contradicted by
the reticent line of the mouth, the quick look, penetrating, simple,
and arch, (one of the most composite glances I have ever seen), and
especially by the voice, which is hollow, not easily modulated, with
deep inflections and sudden returns to a dental pronunciation, and
of which the meaning and intention are further modified by certain
very expressive tossings of the head. He appears simple, precise,
reserved, courteous, and cordial, without liveliness. Little by little
his shyness gives place to a calm and remarkable tone of authority.
He is neither emphatic nor awkward, and would seem rather dispirited
than inspired. An immense energy breathes in his sober and measured
gestures. The slowness and apparent embarrassment of his speech and
the pauses in his conversation give especial significance to what he
says; moreover, Rodin has acquired of late years a genuine case as a
talker and even as a writer, which previously he did not possess. I was
intimately acquainted with Stéphane Mallarmé, who, measured by Rodin,
was incomparably eloquent, and I often associate these two men in my
thoughts. The voices were alike, and Rodin, too, with his improvised
phrases, has the same veiled circumspect way of speech, hitting
suddenly upon words that illuminate the idea.

[Illustration: AUGUSTE RODIN]

Rodin, in speaking of any work of his, has a way of explaining it that
is very elliptical, but very clear, and which has caused some brilliant
chatterers to say, because he did not offer a prolix commentary, that
he did not know what he had done. In reality he utters the essential,
and his gesture, which seems to model his thought in space, completes
his words. He looks lovingly on his creations, and sometimes seems to
meditate in astonishment at the idea of having created them; he speaks
of them as though they existed apart from himself.

Gradually, beneath Rodin's essential simplicity, one discovers features
that were at first hidden; he is ironical, sensuous, nervous, proud.
He contains as possibilities all the passions that he expresses with
so vibrating a magnificence, and one begins to perceive the secret
links between this calm, almost cheerful man and the art that he
reveals. At certain moments his clear and rather vague eyes become
full of phosphorescent points, the face grows sardonic and almost
faunlike; at others it saddens and discloses a sickness for infinity.
This man is the comrade of his dumb white creatures; he loves them,
follows their abstract life, has moral obligations towards them.
Fundamentally the one thing with which Rodin is really concerned is
the life of permanent forms. Of late celebrity, age, and experience
have disposed him to become an adviser, a master, and he has begun
to talk aesthetics. But his ideas and opinions are restricted. He
perceives human beings only very summarily, his cordiality is a way
of fulfilling his social duties hastily. He has, if I may venture the
expression, very fine moral antennae, and they serve to recognise the
persons whom he will like. Very capable of friendship, Rodin reduces
friendship to tacit agreements upon the essential subjects of thought,
and it is only if one meets him upon one of these points that one
takes a place in his remembrance or his liking. He does not put his
faith in individuals, but in general ideas. He loves nothing but his
work, and endures everything else with civil boredom. He has a horror
of debates and disturbances. I have never heard him speak ill of bad
artists; he neglects, but does not criticise. He has a silent humour
which leads him to make busts of official and mediocre sculptors, with
an amusing good grace. Uncompromising in everything that touches his
art, Rodin has throughout his whole career endured severe struggles
and grave injustices, and, too proud to dispute, has never shown his
secret revolts. At the time when the _Balzac_ was refused all Rodin's
friends said to him: "Resist, force your work upon them; you ought,
for the work's sake, and a court would surely decide for you, for your
agreement is definitely in your favour." He listened and thanked them,
always good-tempered, and then withdrew his statue without saying
anything.

It is not weakness, for Rodin has had an excessively hard life and
is strong and patient; it is dignity of the inner life and profound
indifference for the life about him. Rodin is a high dignitary of
the Legion of Honour, a president of the judges of sculpture of an
important society of artists (the Société Nationale), he is honoured
all over Europe, has been received in England as a genius, and has
succeeded Whistler as the head of a chosen band of artists; but he
remains the man that he was when he was unknown and poor in his
solitude at Brussels.

He likes few things, but likes those thoroughly. He reads little, but
what he reads strikes home to him as to no one else; Baudelaire and
Rousseau, in whom he delights, are instances. He is passionately fond
of music, especially of Gluck, but seldom speaks of it. He simplifies
everything, sees only the main lines in morality as in art, lives by
two or three principles, and has an aversion for everything that is
not essential.

[Illustration: A CORNER OF RODIN'S STUDIO AT MEUDON]

When one knows Rodin well one ceases to be able to separate him from
his work. He can no longer think otherwise than symbolically by slow
deposits of accumulated sensation which work on in the deep strata of
his consciousness and suddenly blossom and take a name. His statues are
states of the soul. He is himself a representative being, surprised at
his own immanence, and his intelligence is outdone by his instinct.
That is how it comes about that he does not always know how to name
the beings that he has discovered, as we discover, by means of pain,
corners of our consciousness that we had not suspected. In the same way
that Rodin seems to break away the fragments of a block from around
an already existing statue hidden in it, he is himself a sort of rock
concealing shapes within it and embracing in its secret recesses
immense crystallised arborescences. With a simple enough personal
psychology he expresses infinite shades and inflexions of emotion. His
thought is like the monad of Leibnitz; it seems, when one sees the man,
to have no window to the outer world.

Rodin's opinions upon social life are vague. He contents himself with
repeating that work lovingly done is the secret of all order and all
happiness. To love life and natural forms, and to attempt nothing
disobedient to Nature or her aims, that is his whole morality.

He sees very few people and visits nobody. He would baffle visitors
accustomed to elegant, literary, well-informed, brilliant artists. His
studio in the Rue de l'Université, at the end of an old yard encumbered
by blocks of marble and shaded by aged chestnut trees, is like the
work-place of a poor beginner. Neither a carpet nor an ornament is
to be seen; the stone floor, the bare walls, a few rush chairs, some
modelling stands, some cloths, a shabby deal table loaded with papers,
sketches piled up on shelves, blouses hanging on nails, a cast-iron
stove--these and nothing more are found by the many foreign admirers
who come to see Rodin, and whom he receives with invariable amiability
amid his assistants at work upon the Hugo monument or upon some smaller
piece of marble.

[Illustration: A CORNER OF RODIN'S STUDIO AT MEUDON]

Setting aside his journeys to London and Prague and his travels in
Germany and Italy, Rodin leads an extremely retired life in Paris, and
is rarely to be met. He invariably lunches at his own house at Meudon,
then goes to the Rue de L'Université to work, and goes home again to
dinner. Formerly, before he had his house at Meudon, he used to lunch
at a _café_ in the Place de L'Alma, where he was to be seen for twenty
years, and to which people used to go to see him, rather as people
go to see Ibsen in Christiania. The house, of a sixteenth-century
style, that Rodin has inhabited at Meudon since 1900, is situated amid
vineyards, and stands alone at the end of a sort of cliff, overlooking
all Paris, the Seine, and the Bois de Boulogne, and facing the wooded
heights of Saint Cloud and Bellevue. The site is open and fine; Rodin
enjoys immense expanses of sky, sunsets, storms, and moonlight nights
that delight him. The house is spacious, light, furnished with extreme
simplicity, and adorned by a few pictures, the works of friends (in
particular his portraits by Sargent and Legros). Rodin has added to
it the pavilion in iron and glass, in which he exhibited all his
work, at the Rond-point de l'Alma, in the exhibition of 1900. This
pavilion, rebuilt and full of brilliant sunlight, contains all the
artist's statuary. There are also several small studios, in which
Rodin has his marble rough-hewn, keeps the casts of his statues or
accumulates the collections of bronzes, marbles, antique or Gothic,
and fragments which he is never tired of finding out and buying. In
this place, which, after a life of difficulties and worries, Rodin has
been able to purchase, he leads a life that fully suits his tastes,
among beautiful trees and flowers, with a majestic landscape before
him. It is touching to see the man, here, amid the enormous mass of
his work, a whole world of statues, with which he lives and which sums
up all his labours and all his existence. A photograph which I am able
to add to the illustrations of this volume will give a partial idea
of that surprising and imposing cohort of figures in clay, marble,
and bronze--that impassioned or tragic throng. Rodin receives very
few visitors at Meudon--hardly any but old friends, and he spends his
mornings in his garden or in his light and cheerful studio drawing or
superintending his workmen. It is chiefly at Meudon that he prepares
his rough drafts, the main lines of his compositions; and in order to
see an effect he will often hastily put together with clay some of
the plaster limbs that he keeps in a number of glass cases--quite an
anatomical museum in fact, filling a whole storey, and containing
hundreds of pieces and of attitudes piled together.

[Illustration: STUDY (IN BRONZE) FOR THE "BALZAC"]

Rodin appears to stand alone in his own time; first, by his genius;
and secondly, by the special character of his artistic conception.
This solitude, however, is only apparent. Rodin's ideas, as opposed
to the teaching of the "École," form a body of logical principles
which are slowly attracting the adhesion of young artists. The long
struggle of impressionism against academism has now entered upon its
last phase: the return to the French tradition, to national affiliation
in opposition to the Roman neo-classicism. That idea, which is the
programme of all independent and interesting critical intelligence in
our country, finds in Rodin its perfect demonstration, and the only
one afforded by contemporary sculpture. Until now Rodin has preached
only by example, and we know how slow the critics and the public are in
extracting from a work the ideas that it contains. But the extraction
is now begun, and Rodin himself speaks with undisputed authority. Since
the exhibition of 1900 his moral position stands ten times higher.
Youth greets him as a chieftain and his detractors are silent. While
the synthetic and symbolic mind of Rodin arouses the enthusiasm and
inspires the thoughts of writers, the theory of the amplification of
the modelling is making its way in the studios of sculptors. "Rodin has
opened a large window in the pale house of contemporary sculpture,"
declares Pierre Roche, the sculptor; "out of the timid and much
impaired craft that was before his day he has shown that a bold art
full of hope can be made." This opinion of one of the most delicate
artists of our generation is precisely that of many independent
sculptors. Among these we must quote Emile Bourdelle, Rodin's pupil
and friend, an impassioned, vibrating, and generous artist, whose
works are among those first looked for in each Salon. Others are the
two brothers Gaston and Lucien Schnegg, the latter of whom exhibited
in the Salon of 1904 so beautiful a head of Aphrodite, almost worthy
in the mysterious and vaporous beauty of its planes, of the ancients,
and of Rodin; Jules Desbois, of the first rank in technical skill and
of a violently original temperament; Alexandre Charpentier, a former
collaborator of Rodin's, whose success in applied art has not turned
him aside from his expressive and vigorous work in statuary; Mlle.
Camille Claudel, Rodin's pupil, who is the first woman sculptor of
existing-art in France, and whose name has appeared upon admirable
works; and finally, Pierre Roche, although his supple and decorative
fancy denies itself the expression of the tragic. The Swiss sculptor
Niederhausern-Rodo, George Minne, the sculptor of Ghent, who has a
powerful creative genius, not understood, and the Italian sculptor
Rosso, are also partisans of Rodin's art, and so is the Englishman
Bartlett. In another direction it is very interesting to note the
curious reciprocal influence of Auguste Rodin and Eugène Carrière,
who are united by friendship and by the same aesthetic creed. Eugène
Carrière, the most profound painter of the inner life existing in the
French school of to-day, has great analogies with Rodin, both as a man
and as an artist. He, too, reduces his art to essentials, to the main
lines and the deliberate amplification of surfaces. Thus his figures,
bathed in shadow, are akin to Rodin's statues, while the latter, bathed
with dewy light, seem to be pictures by Carrière. The painter becomes
massive and powerful, the sculptor becomes vaporous. Rodin seeks the
bland, half-shadows of Correggio, and Carrière desires that his figures
should have the powerful relief of bronze. The painter sacrifices
colour to the sole study of values, and by his black-and-white comes
back to sculpture. Very curious is this point of junction between
two great artists. Rodin is beginning to explain himself with the
pen; and Eugène Carrière has, for some years past, been writing--too
rarely--passages upon art of which the style is admirable and the
concentration of thought astonishing, passages which recall Mallarmé
and Baudelaire, and leave far behind the commonplaces of journalistic
criticism. Rodin and Carrière have their school, their circle of chosen
admirers, and their double influence may soon be the most decisive, if
not the most brilliant and the noisiest, in French art of to-day.

NUDE FIGURE (PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE OPEN AIR AT TWILIGHT IN THE GARDEN AT
MEUDON)

The prevailing note of opinion about Rodin among his friends and his
detractors is that he is like no one else, and that no statue can, in a
manner, be looked at beside his, so individual is the conception from
which they spring. By the mere fact that they exist, they compel us to
choose between them and the others. Their silhouettes, their planes,
the quality of their shadows, and their lights, make them technically
works apart. If such a man understands sculpture thus, either he is
right, against everybody, or he is totally mistaken; we cannot like him
and also approve of ordinary statuary. His psychological and tragic
genius conquers the admiration even of those who oppose his material
execution. Rodin does not set himself up as a chief, nor recognise
followers; yet he is a chief by his very work.

He is the greatest living French artist, and one of the most complex
and powerful movers of thought in modern art. He does not found a
school, but he influences the soul of a generation. He remains alone,
not susceptible of imitation; but if he did not exist sculpture would
be deprived of its greatest regenerator.[1] By inscribing passions
in symbols, he touches the sensibilities of all, and is a master
to poets as much as to sculptors, because his subjects are moral,
affecting, never commanded by an anecdote, bathed in the universally
lyric. Attempts have been made to blame him because of the admiration
of writers; it has been said, with an inflexion of scorn (especially
in the circles of his fellow-artists), "he is a _littéraire_." An
injustice easily committed at a time when the intellect of painters
and sculptors seems to blush at itself, and when they make it a sort
of false merit to show that their eye and hand are separate from their
brain. Rodin's splendid technical power annuls the reproach and retains
the praise. Resting firmly upon nature, his symbols may rise high.
Rodin delights poets because he makes the infinite emanate from the
most finite of arts.

Everything has been patiently meditated by him. He dares, but is never
overbold; his balance and his taste are those of a classic, despite
the uncomprehending astonishment of the academic sculptors, hypnotised
by the sophistry of _finish_ and _elegance_, and confusing the _exact_
with the _true._ There is a synthesized form, that corresponds to
reality synthesized in symbols, a _second truth;_ and that proportion
is observed by very few artists. Most of them, contenting themselves
with an immediate, momentary, anecdotic truth, translate it by
picturesque observation, or by minutely detailed copying. This attempt
of a sterile cleverness to transcribe the instantaneous is the very
contrary of art, the first character of which is to display the laws
of vital permanence underlying fugitive aspects. Herein lies the reason
why sculptors become uneasy over Rodin, while writers, more familiar
with general ideas, become enthusiastic. The impressionist crisis--the
study, that is to say, of instantaneous lights and actions--hardly got
over, he brings in this _second truth,_ the transcription of general
and permanent feelings into a form that speaks as much to the mind as
to the senses. Such a man dominates impressionism as much as he does
academism.

A whole order of curious and fundamental relations between nervous
sensibility and thought has arisen out of his work. Rodin's personality
is specially representative in the line of French sculptors. He goes
back, as I have said, to the Egyptians and the Greeks in the matter
of technical ideas. In his tragic feeling he proceeds directly from
the Gothic artists. It is from them that he descends, and especially
from the sculptors of the French Renascence, in particular Germain
Pilon; and he blends his Greek remembrances, passed through an Italian
influence, with a conception altogether national, vigorous, and
decorative. Rodin's actual part is to take up sculpture exactly at
the moment of the French evolution.[2] Since that time we have had
some great masters; native genius has been triumphantly upheld, in
opposition to the false school that came from the Alps, by Coysevox,
Houdon, Puget, Pajou, Pigalle, Clodion, Falconet, Couston, Rude,
Carpeaux, and Barye, a line of splendid inventors of shapes, all of
whom, in contradistinction to the official school, have represented
the inmost qualities of their race. All these men Rodin emulates by
the importance of his work; perhaps the future may regard him as
the magnificent outcome of their efforts carried on through three
centuries. In this succession of artists, Puget, Rude, and Barye are
those with whom his technical relations are closest.[3] But he has been
less decorative than Puget and less hampered by the themes imposed
upon him; he has gone further than the great Rude in the expression of
inward emotion, and he surpasses even Barye in power of modelling and
boldness of silhouette. He has created a world which is fully his own,
a feeling and a pathos not to be found elsewhere, which are the very
soul of his time.

Rodin, then, can be set only beside Puget and Rude. Like Puget, he is
overflowing with vitality and with passionate frenzy; he worships power
and heroic beings; but his are sad, and nearer to Gothic asceticism
and to the nervous derangement of Baudelaire than to the resplendent
pomp of the seventeenth century, into which Puget transposed his
heroes of Rome and of Corneille. Like Rude, he is attracted by deep
things, by soul tragedies; but he is more abstract than the creator
of the _Napoleon Awakening to Immortality_, the _Joan of Arc,_ or
the _Marseillaise._ Rodin is more general, more synthetic; he turns
his mind to permanent symbols, outside of ages and races. Taking up,
as if in challenge, the mythological subjects that the "École" had
most spoiled, he has shown how a great mind can renew all things and
impress upon them the magic of its vision. He is the most symbolic
of our men of genius; and if the modelling of the Greeks, Gothic
austerity, the strength of Puget and of Rude, have helped Rodin to
make up his personality, the fusion of these elements and the addition
of a personal imagination and an extraordinary contemplative faculty
have enabled him, like Wagner, who descended from Bach, Beethoven, and
Liszt, to create, after and apart from all of them, work that resumes
them and forgets them, to become in its turn an initiator. The point
in which Rodin is inimitable is the expression of the voluptuous with
all its latent woes; and this point strongly recalls to memory _Tristan
and Isolde_, which is such a paroxysm as might touch the most perilous
region of exceptional art; but Rodin is kept within the bounds of the
normal, and protected from the audacities of his strange and troubled
imagination, by his imperturbable technical certainty and by his
admiration for some few masters. As was the case with Baudelaire and
with Poe, his purity and grandeur of form save him; like Dante, this
lover of gloomy beauty hangs over the verge of passion's hell without
falling into it.

Rodin's art is healthy because it feeds upon natural truth and general
logic. He is the supreme painter of man bowed by intense, melancholic,
feverish, constricting thought; but also, with a candid tenderness
unknown to Wagner, he is the caressing creator of women in love, the
poet of youth, embracing and radiant. Only a genius can have the
diversity of mind that produces _The Burghers of Calais_, ascetic
and mediæval, the spasmodic _Hell_, the almost abstract _Balzac_,
the bronze busts worthy of Donatello, and the images of women carved
in the radiant and golden marble of Attica by a sensuous and subtle
enthusiast who has rediscovered the soul of Hellenic beauty. This union
of technical skill, evolved according to the secrets of the antique
with a power of expressing all human sentiments from gentleness to
lewdness, from the mystic to the pathetic, from nervous disorganisation
to carnal frankness, this union of contraries and this universality are
not to be found in any of our forerunners. Not Puget, nor Rude, nor
any of our masters has had such intellectual ubiquity, such strength
of condensation; in these points it is allowable, even in our own day,
to acknowledge Rodin as supreme in the rich French school, and thus to
anticipate the judgment of the future, in whose eyes he will loom yet
larger.

In any case it was high time he should appear; he has been as useful
as was Manet by his intervention in French art. In spite of Dalou,
sculpture had fallen very low after the death of Carpeaux and Barye;
the deplorable school of the Second Empire had brought it into
degeneracy, and we could reckon no one in sculpture to correspond
to the great impressionists. Such men as Dujalbert, Chapu, Mercié,
Frémiet, Saint Marceaux, and Falguière, are but sham great sculptors,
nothing of whose work will last; the "École" group, from Paul Dubois
to Barrias, Aube and Guillaume, is a mere example of pretentious
insignificance. The few vigorous temperaments, or workers of genuine
technical merit, like Denys Puech, Jean Dampt, Gardet, Camille
Lefèvre, Devillez, and Jean Bassier, did not know how to put together
their efforts in such a way as to found a real school. They produced
without attaining a cohesion of thought capable of guiding a fresh
generation. Bartholomé, thoughtful, pure, dreamy, and proud, stands
apart. Mme. Besnard and M. Théodore Rivière are charming, but without
influence. I have spoken of the group that has spontaneously placed
itself around Rodin. Amid this interesting, unequal, and scattered
sculpture he appeared with the authority of a master and a prophet;
his work set the question upon its true basis again, showing whence we
came, what was to be avoided, and whither we were to go; and all this
with such clearness of evidence that the appearance of Rodin becomes,
in like degree with that of Goujon and that of Puget, a capital date
in the history of the French school, I declared in the Preface my
intention to avoid any extravagant eulogy of Rodin, and have uttered
my dislike of the idolatry by which some people think it necessary
publicly to emphasise their admiration, with its snobbish accretions.
But I should fall into the opposite fault if I did not declare the
truth and the importance of what such an artist brings to his art, and
did not mark his exact place in the line of his country's sculpture.
Henley has called Rodin the Michael Angelo of the modern world. That
opinion of a foreign critic, a critic justly esteemed one of the most
upright in contemporary literature, France may justly make her own,
far from extravagant and puerile praises, and in the face of the work
accomplished. I shall be but too happy if I have contributed to make
clearer to the public certain secret reasons, certain inner frameworks,
of that logical and beautiful work.


[1] A vehement but indiscriminating critic, M. Octave Mirbeau, has seen
good to write, by way of affirming that Rodin's art moved him strongly:
"A style takes rise from him." I have neither the space nor the wish to
recriminate; but it would be dangerous to let such artistic heresies
pass without protest. Rodin is an admirable example, but to say that
a style arises from him is to say that he may become the creator of a
perishable formula, and to understand nothing about his art.

[2] Some surprise may be felt at my having failed to insist upon the
name of Michael Angelo. Everybody has hit upon the obvious comparison.
It is the exceeding obviousness that leads me to distrust it. Rodin is
much nearer to Puget than to Michael Angelo, who is muscular strength
carried to heroic proportions. Rodin, like Puget, and more than Puget,
is nervous strength. Rodin appears much more akin to Michael Angelo
than he really is. Careful study causes us more and more to leave
behind that preliminary likeness which has sufficed so many critics.

[3] We might perhaps say the same in regard to the great Carpeaux, too,
who carried the art of movement and expression to so high a degree, and
who did the same liberal work against the "École" as Rodin was to do at
a later time. But their visions, aims, and minds differ profoundly.



VI


APPENDIX--CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF RODIN'S PRINCIPAL WORKS--LIST OF THE
PRINCIPAL BOOKS OR ARTICLES WRITTEN ABOUT HIM--QUOTATIONS REFERRING TO
HIM--AN OPINION OF EUGÈNE CARRIÈRE'S; AN OPINION OF HENLEY'S--VARIOUS
NOTES


Chronological catalogue of Rodin's works is almost impossible to draw
up. I do not think Rodin himself could do it. It must be remembered
that before 1877 he made a quantity of studies which he destroyed,
and such a producer as he is willing to neglect things of which
others would keep count. In his poor and wandering days Rodin must
have abandoned many things. How would it be possible to recount the
figures that were retouched or even executed at Carrier-Belleuse's,
the earliest independent works, the characters executed by him at
Brussels, the statues that were planned and left unfinished for lack
of money, those that were broken or that failed--all the immense store
of work accomplished in the course of twenty years by a man who worked
every day? How would it be possible even to enumerate the sketches
and varied renderings of different subjects piled up in the studio at
Meudon, in the Clos Payen, in the Rue des Fourneaux, and at Vaugirard?
It is a whole world. I will confine myself, therefore, to a statement
of known and exhibited works: and these, indeed, are what is essential.


LIST OF THE PRINCIPAL EXHIBITED WORKS

1864. _The Man with a Broken Nose._

1865-70. Works in the studio of Carrier-Belleuse.

1872-77. Friezes upon the Bourse and various works at Brussels.

1877. _The Primitive Man (The Age of Brass)._ Decorative work on the
Trocadéro.

1878-80. _Saint Jerome. Saint John the Baptist._ Works in the
manufactory of Sèvres. Competition for the National Defence Monument.

1881. _Adam_ (destroyed). _Eve._

1882. _Ugolino_ (a sketch taken up again later). Busts of _Alphonse
Legros_ and _IV. E. Henley._ Studies for _The Gate of Hell._

1883. _Bellona. General Lynch_ (equestrian statue). _The Genius of
War._

1884. Monument of _President Vicunha. Bust of a Young Woman._

1885. _The Man and the Serpent._ Busts of _Dalou, Hugo,_ and _Antonin
Proust._

1886. First sketch of the Hugo monument. Drawings dealing with _The
Gate of Hell._ Bust of _Henry Becque. The Kiss_ (a small group).

1887. _Perseus and the Gorgon. Head of St. John beheaded._

1888. _The Danaid. Alan Walking._ Nude study for one of the _Burghers
of Calais._ Several little groups.

1889. Studies for the _Gate of Hell_ and the monument to _Claude
Lorraine. Torso of a Woman._ Group of _The Dream. The Dream of Life.
Women Damned_ (in marble). _Hecuba._ Bust of _Roger Marx. Destitution.
Thought_ (in marble).

1890. _Bust of a Young Woman_ (in silver). _Torso of Saint John.
Brother and Sister._

1891. _The Caryatid. The Young Mother. A Nymph._

1892. Busts of _Puvis de Chavannes_ and _Henri Rochefort. Grief.
Claude Lorraine. The Burghers of Calais._

1893. _The Death of Adonis._ Medallion of _César Franck. Galatea._
Bust of _Séverine. The Crest and the Wave. Resurrection. The Child
Achilles_ (group in clay).

1894. _Eternal Spring. Hope_ (a reclining figure in back view.)
_Orpheus and Eurydice_ (first version). _Christ and Magdalen._

1895. Inauguration of _The Burghers of Calais. Illusion,_ the _Daughter
of Icarus._ Medallion of _Octave Mirbeau._ Nude studies for the
_Balzac. Man Crouching._

1896. _The Inner Voice. The Muse of Anger_ (for the Hugo monument).
_The Conqueror. Minerva. The Poet and the Life of Contemplation. Women
Bathing._ Studies for the _Balzac._

1897. _Victor Hugo. Balzac._ Monument of _President_ _Sarmiento._

1898. Statue of _Balzac._ Bust of a _Young American._ Bust of _Madame
F._ Statue of _Sarmiento,_ with a high relief of Apollo in marble.
Monument of _Labour. The Benedictions_ (marble). _Twilight. Clouds._
_The Parcæ and the Young Girl._

1899. Works for the Hugo monument.

1900. Marble groups. Exhibition at the Rond-point de l'Alma.

1901. _Shades_ (for _The Gate of Hell)._

1902. Groups in marble. _The Hand of God._ Busts.

1903. Bust of _Hugo. The Poet and the Muse._ Various sketches.
_Ugolino_ (fresh version). _The Prodigal Son._

1904. _The Thinker_, and various works in marble in process of
execution.[1]

The work of Rodin may thus be estimated at about ten works on a grand
scale, forty groups or statues, some thirty important busts, and
perhaps two hundred figures or portraits, without counting sketches,
from 1877 to 1904.

I come now to the mention of some significant writings that deal with
his aesthetic theory or with his work; and, as may be supposed, I leave
out of question a quantity of valueless articles, for Rodin has been
directly or indirectly the pretext for a great mass of writings, and
is the modern French artist who has been most talked of, justly or
unjustly. The works quoted are such as may be consulted with advantage.


[1] To these may be added, in 1905, a bust of the Rt. Hon. _George
Wyndham_, and _The Hand of God._



ARTICLES OR BOOKS RELATING TO RODIN

"Balzac and Rodin," by Roger Marx (_Le Voltaire,_ March, 1892).

"Claude Lorraine," by Roger Marx (_Le Voltaire,_ June, 1892).
(Excellent studies in the criticism of sculpture.)

"Auguste Rodin," by Roger Marx (_Pan,_ and _The Image,_ September,
1897).

Drawings by Rodin, 129 plates, containing 142 heliogravures (Goupil and
Co., 1897), from the suggestions and loans of M. Fenaille.

"Rodin's Studio," by Edouard Rod (_Gazette des Beaux Arts,_ May, 1898).

"Rodin," by Gabriel Mourey (_Revue illustrée,_ October, 1899)

_Exhibition of 1900: Rodin's Works,_ with four prefaces by Eugène
Carrière, Jean Paul Laurens, Claude Monet, and Albert Besnard.

"Rodin and Legros," by Arsène Alexandre (_Figaro,_ June, 1900).

"The Gate of Hell," by Anatole France (_Figaro,_ June 1st, 1900).

_La Revue des Beaux Arts et des Lettres,_ January 1st, 1900.

_La Plume,_ 1900. Special number.

_Les Maîtres Artistes,_ special number, October 15th, 1903.
(Illustrated collections, containing a certain number of critical
studies by various authors.)

_Rodin,_ by Léon Riotor: a pamphlet, reproducing in French, German,
English, Italian, Spanish, and Russian, a study that appeared in the
_Revue populaire des Beaux Arts,_ April 8th, 1899.

_Rodin, the Sculptor,_ a volume of criticism, illustrated; by Léon
Maillard (Floury); 1899.

_The Sculptor Rodin, drawn from life._ A volume by Mlle. Judith Cladel
(_La Plume_ office, 1903).

_Rodin,_ a study by L. Brieger-Wasser (Vogel. Strassburg; 1903).

_Rodin,_ by George Treu (_Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst._ Berlin,
Marstersteig, 1903).

_Rodin,_ by R. M. Rilke (Berlin, Bard, 1903).

"Rodin." Articles upon, by W. E. Henley, 1890; D. S. MacColl, 1902;
Henri Duhem, 1890; Karel B. Made (Prague); Vittorio Pica (Rome).

Of these various writings devoted to Rodin, those of Roger Marx should
be particularly noted, on account of their technical understanding;
Léon Maillard's volume is a sincere, well-informed, well-illustrated
book, produced by a man who comprehends. The book by Mlle. Judith
Cladel, daughter of the distinguished novelist, is an originally
conceived volume, the only one that relates certain conversations, and
attempts, with charming acuteness, to present Rodin in his private
character. It is a work that deserves to be much better known and
appreciated, and of which Rodin's first panegyrists, jealous of being
the only "inventors" of the artist, have been very careful not to
speak. The article by the graceful painter, Henri Duhem, is likewise
excellent; and I consider Mr. MacColl's very remarkable, on account of
its elevation and precision of judgment. The others have such value
as belongs to admiring articles written hurriedly in newspapers: they
express sympathetic feelings, or comment in a poetical way upon the
subjects, but their critical value is négligeable, and there is nothing
to be quoted from them for the information of my readers. The _Balzac_
gave rise to a shoal of newspaper articles. Georges, Rodenbach, and
France, on that occasion, said the acute and witty thing's about
Rodin that they say about all manifestations of thought, and M.
Mirbeau made Rodin the theme of some of those polemical variations,
conjoining hyperbolical praise with abuse of his adversaries, which
he is accustomed to offer as art-criticisms, and which have gained
him a reputation of a certain kind. There is nothing to note in these
pamphlets mixed with eulogistic effusions, the whole of which do not
contain the substance of twenty lines by Henley or of Eugène Carrière's
admirable Preface, which I am desirous of reproducing here because it
is a masterpiece of synthetic divination.[1]


[1] Preface to the Catalogue of the Rodin exhibition in the Pavillon
de l'Alma, 1900. (The work mentioned above; other prefaces by Claude
Monet, A. Besnard, and J. P. Laurens.)



"THE ART OF RODIN


"Rodin's art comes from the earth and returns to it, like those giant
blocks--rocks or dolmens--which mark deserts, and in the heroic
grandeur of which man recognises himself.

"The transmission of thought by art, like the transmission of life, is
the work of passion and of love.

"Passion, whose obedient servant Rodin is, makes him discover the laws
that serve to express it; she it is that gives him the sense of volumes
and proportions, the choice of the expressive prominence.

"Thus the earth projects external apparent forms, images, and statues
that fill us with a sense of its internal life.

"These terrestrial forms were the real guides of Rodin. They have set
him free from scholastic traditions, in them he found his being and the
creative instinct of men whom humanity celebrates.

"Trees and plants revealed to him their likeness to those fair women,
with sleek limbs rising, like delicate columns, to the moving torso and
swelling breast, above which the head hangs heavily in the company of a
strong and supple neck, even as a fine fruit full of savour weighs down
its branch.

"The massive brow overshadows the eyes, and the cheek brings the lip
softly to the lover's entreaty.

"Forms seek and meet in voluptuous desires of violence and of
resignation, rebellious and obedient to laws from which nothing
escapes; everywhere conscious logic triumphs.

"The generalising spirit of Rodin has imposed solitude upon him. It
has not been his lot to work upon the cathedral that is not, but his
desire of humanity links him to the eternal forms of nature."

After such a passage, in which every word is significant and eloquent,
and is a great artist's reflection, everything seems pale. I will not,
however, confine myself to a mere dry mention of the essay by Vittorio
Pica, the great Italian critic, who generously arranged for Rodin's
participation in the Venetian Exhibition (Gallery of Modern Art, 1897),
and I should have liked to quote Anatole France's fine article, and
some assertions of Mr. MacColl's, who very logically recalls to our
memory the sculptor Auguste Préault, who is too much forgotten, and
who was, indeed, a sort of imperfect precursor of Rodin. I must at
least transcribe a few lines from W. E. Henley, who was, from the very
beginning, a clear-sighted admirer of Rodin, and who spoke of him with
eloquence and passion:--

"M. Dalou ... has declared that when the century goes out it will
remember the aforesaid doors" (i.e. _The Gate of Hell_) "as its heroic
achievement in sculpture. And if that be true--as I believe it to be
true--then where, between himself and Michael Angelo, is there so
lofty a head as Rodin's?... His busts alone were enough to place him
in the future, the style of them is so complete, the treatment so
large and so distinguished, the effect so personal, yet so absolute in
art.... Here, if you will, are a thousand hints of the possibilities of
human passion: from Paolo and Francesca melting into each other:

    "'La bocca mi bacio tutta tremante'

as no man and woman have done in sculpture since sculpture began....
Here is sculpture in its essence.... You may read into it as much
literature as you please, or as you can; but the interpolation is
not Rodin's, but your own.... It is not literature in relief, nor
literature in the round; it is sculpture pure and simple.... Passion is
with him wholly a matter of form and surface and line, and exists not
apart from these.... He is our Michael Angelo; and if he had not been
that, he might have been our Donatello. And with Phidias and Lysippus
all these some-and-twenty centuries afar, what more is left to say of
the man of genius whose art is theirs?"

We see that Henley's admiration returns to the comparison of Michael
Angelo and Rodin. I persist in thinking that the resemblance rather
lies in moral identity, in conception than in technicalities. The
muscular enlargement of the Italian hero is not Rodin's amplification
nor his expressiveness, _which is altogether nervous._ It is none the
less true that these two men are the only ones who have imagined and
realised a sculpturesque conception of so vast a reach. Not even Puget
and Rude, who came between them, ventured such wholes as _The Tomb of
the Medici_ or _The Gate of Hell._


MUSEUMS

Rodin has in the Luxembourg Museum (Paris) the following works:--

_The Age of Brass,_ originally placed in the Luxembourg Gardens near
the School of Mines.

_The Danaid_ (marble).

_Thought_ (marble).

_St. John the Baptist Preaching_ (bronze).

_The Fair Helmet-maker_ (bronze).

Bust of _Jean Paul Laurens_ (bronze).

_The Kiss_ (marble).

Bust of _Mme. V._ (marble).

At the Petit Palais (Ville de Paris), one work.

At Beziers, Cognac, Dijon, Douai, Lille, and Lyons, several works.

At Brussels, one work.

At Copenhagen, several works.

At New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, works. At Helsingfors,
one work.

At Rotterdam, one work.

At Geneva (Rath Museum), three works.

At Venice, Christiania, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Düsseldorf, Munich,
Weimar, Vienna, Prague (town hall), one work in each town.

At Hamburg, three works.

At Hagen, three works.

At Berlin (new gallery of Charlottenburg), five works.

At Crefeld, two works.

At Buda-Pest, five works.

In London (Victoria and Albert Museum), two works; (British Museum),
one work.

At Glasgow, one work.

Museum of Marseilles, _The Inner Voice_ (clay).

The new works in these various museums are originals or casts.


PRIVATE COLLECTIONS

M. Vever (_Eve,_ in marble).

M. Pontremoli (the _National Defence._)

M. Antony Roux (_The Kiss_).

M. Roger Marx (bust, _The Young Mother_).

M. Blanc (_The Eternal Idol._)

M. Desmarais (the _Idyll._)

Mme. Durand (_Thought_, in marble, given to the Luxembourg).

M. Peytel (various groups).

Mme. Russell (_Minerva._)

M. Fenaille (_The Spring, Bust of Mme. F., The Poet and the Life of
Contemplation,_ a twisted column with figures, surmounted by a mask).

Baron Vitta (high-reliefs in stone).

The Marquise de Carcano (_Head of St. John beheaded,_ marble).

This, of course, is a very cursory list, and includes only collections
in Paris.

I must add separately to the works published about Rodin those for
which I am responsible: (1) a study, called "The Art of M. Rodin,"
_Revue des Revues,_ 15th June, 1898; this has been approved by the
artist, and very frequently reproduced. (2) A lecture delivered on
the 31st of July, 1900, at the Rodin exhibition, and published by
_La Plume_, with four unpublished drawings. (3) An essay upon the
surroundings, personality, and influence of Rodin, which appeared in
the _Revue Universelle_ in 1901, and has likewise been reprinted,
particularly in the _Maîtres Artistes_ (special number, 15th October,
1903).

The high price of the work published by Messrs. Goupil (_A Hundred
and Fort-two Drawings by Rodin_) prevents that fine volume from being
accessible to the public. The amateur photographer Druet has taken
photographs of all Rodin's work, which are rather misty, but which
render admirably the caressing touch of light on the main planes, and
which in a measure reproduce the artistic atmosphere of the statues.
Messrs. Haweis and Coles have likewise taken some beautiful and curious
proofs. More classic, but also more definite, are the fine photographs
which the art publisher Buloz has recently taken, and which have been
employed to illustrate this volume.


PORTRAITS

There is a remarkable portrait of Rodin by Mr. John Sargent (dating
from about twenty years ago). Another, by M. Alphonse Legros (a
profile), is more of a fancy head, and wears a sort of tiara. A more
recent portrait has been produced by Mr. Alexander. There is a very
forcible bust by Mile. Camille Claudel, as well as a bust by J.
Desbois, a lithograph by Eugène Carrière, and some amusing studio
sketches by Mile. Cladel. An interesting lithograph of "Rodin in his
Studio," by W. Rothenstein, appeared in the _Artist-Engraver,_ April,
1904.

A curious photograph, taken by M. Steichen; a poster for the Rodin
exhibition, containing a portrait, and drawn by Carrière; and some
excellent photographs taken at Prague (of which the one here reproduced
is astonishingly faithful) complete this list of likenesses.



INDEX

    _Achilles, The Education of_
    _Adam_ (destroyed)
    _Adonis, The Death of_
    _Age of Brass, The_
    Antiope (of Correggio), The
    Antique, The, influence of, on Rodin
      Rodin's analysis of
      its right use
      its truth and beauty
    Aphrodite (by Lucien Schnegg)
    _Apollo,_ the two reliefs
    Aube
    _Autumn_ (stone)
    _Avarice and Lewdness_

    _Balzac, Statue of_
    Barrias; his monument to Hugo
    Bartholomé
    Bartlett
    Barye
    Bassier, Jean
    _Bastien-Lepage, Statue of_
    Baudelaire
    Beauvais
    _Becque, Henry, Bust of_
      dry-point portraits of
    _Bellona_
    _Benedictions, The_
    Bergerat, M., Rodin's drawings for his book
    Besnard, Mme.
    Boisbaudron, Lecoq de
    Boucher, the sculptor
    Bourdelle, Emile
    _Broken Nose, The Man with the_
    _Brother and Sister_
    Brussels
    _Burghers of Calais, The_
    Burgundian sculptors, 38
    Busts, Rodin's portrait, 17, 18, 21, 29, 31, 33, 84

    Carcano, Marchioness of
    Carpeaux
    Carrier-Belleuse
    Carrière, Eugène
      his opinion of Rodin's art
    _Caryatid, The_
    Celtic genius, The
    Chaplin
    Chappe, A statue of
    Chapu
    Charpentier, Alexandre
    Chartres, The cathedral of
    _Christ and the Magdalen_
    _Christian Martyr, The_
    Cladel, Mlle.
    Classicism, Rodin's
    Clodion
    Clot, lithographer
    _Conqueror, A, holding a Statue of Victory_
    Corneille
    Correggio
    Costume in sculpture, The question of
    Couston
    Coysevox
    _Crouching Man, The_
    Dalou; Rodin's bust of
    Dampt, Jean
    _Danaid, The_
    Dante
    David of Angers
    Devillez
    _Day_
    Delacroix
    Delaplanche
    Desbois
    Donatello
    Drawings and sketches, Rodin's
    _Dream-Group_
    Dry-points, Rodin's
    Dubois, Paul
    Duhem, Henri
    Dujalbert
    Dutch painting

    Egyptian sculpture
    Eiffel Tower
    Emerson quoted
    Erotic subjects, Rodin's treatment of
    Etchings, Rodin's
    _Eternal Idol, The_
    _Eve_
    Exhibited works
    Exhibition with Claude Monet, the

    Fagel
    Falconet
    Falguière
      his "Balzac"
      Rodin's bust of
    _Faun and Nymph
    Fauns and Bacchantes_
    _Fenaille, Bust of Mme._
    Fenaille, M.; his edition of
      Rodin's drawings
    _Fiennes, Jean de,_
    Finish, False notions of
    Flemish primitives
    Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire's
      Rodin's illustrations to
    Florence Baptistery Gates, as model of _The Gate of Hell_
    France, Anatole
    _Franck, Medallion of Cæsar_
    Frémiet
    Fuller, Loïe

    _Galatea_
    Gallé, Emile
    Gallimard, M.
    Gardet
    _Gate of Hell, The_
    _Genius of War, The_
    Gluck, 105
    Gothic sculptures, Rodin's study of
    Goujon
    Greek sculpture
    Guillaume

    _Hand of God, The_
    _Hecuba_
    _Helmet-maker, The Fair_
    Henley, W. E.
      his opinion of Rodin's art
    Hokusai
    Houdon
    _Hugo, Victor, Bust of_
      dry-point portraits of
      the _Monument to_

    _Icarus_
    _Illusion, the Daughter of Icarus_
    _Inferno,_ Dante's
    Inspiration
    _Iris_
    Italy, Rodin's travels in

    Japanese bronzes and prints, Rodin's admiration of
    Jasmin, Clément
    Joan of Arc, Rude's

    _Kiss, The_

    _Labour, Monument to_
    Lamartine
    _Laurens, Jean Paul, Bust of_
    Lavoisier, A statue of
    Lefèvre, Camille
    Legros, Alphonse; bust of
    _Lorraine, Claude, The Monument to_
    Louvre, the
    _Love and Psyche_
    _Lovers, Groups of_
    Luxembourg, The
    _Lynch, Statue of_

    MacColl, D. S.
    _Magdalen, The_
    _Mahomet_ (drawing)
    Mallarmé, Stéphane
    Manet
    _Man Walking_
    _Man with the Broken Nose, The_ (clay head)
      (marble)
    Marseillaise, Rude's
    Marx, Roger
      bust of
    _Meditation_
    Meudon, Rodin's house and studio at
    Michael Angelo
    _Minerva_ (helmeted bust)
     (marble and silver)
    Minne, George
    Mirbeau, Octave
      bust of
      medallion of
      Rodin's drawings for his books
    Monet, Claude
    _Monument to the Defenders of the Nation_
    Morbidezza
    _Mother, The Young_
    _Muse of Anger_

    _Muse of the Inner Voice_
    Museums

    Nancy
    Naples Museum
    Napoleon Awakening to Immortality,
    Rude's
    Neo-Greek School, Errors and defects of
    _Nereids, The_
    Niederhausern-Rodo
    _Night,_
    Nude, The
    _Nymph, A,_

    _Orpheus and Eurydice_

    Paintings, Rodin's
    Pajou
    Pantheon, The
    _Perseus and the Gorgon_
    Pica, Vittorio
    Pigalle
    Pilon, Germain
    Poe
    _Poet and the Life of Contemplation, The_
    _Poets and Muses_
    Préault, Auguste
    Private Collections
    _Proust, Antonin, Bust of_
      dry-point of
    _Psyche_
    Puech, Denys
    Puget
    Puvis de Chavannes; bust of
      monument to
    _Pygmalion_

    Raphael
    Redon, Odilon
    Rembrandt
    Renascence, Rodin's admiration for the, 63-5
    _Rimini, Paolo and Francesca da_
    Rivière, Théodore
    _Rochefort, Bust of_
    Roche, Pierre, in
    Rodin, Auguste, birth, parentage, and schooling
      early art-training
      under Barye
      works for ornament-maker
      in Carrier-Belleuse's studio
      early works in sculpture
      goes to Brussels; work there
      friendship with Legros
      takes painting lessons from Lecoq de Boisbaudron
      accepted at Salon
      accused of casting from life
      his first sale
      cleared of accusations
      sudden emergence from obscurity
      slow development
      attitude to academic art
      his originality and power noticed
      studios granted him by Government
      works at Sèvres
      his stay in Brussels a formative time
      deeply impressed by Dante and Baudelaire (and see under these names)
      monument to Hugo described
      impatience of officialism
      _Gate of Hell_ described
      exhibition with Claude Monet in 1889
      monument to Claude Lorraine described
      _Burghers of Calais_ described
      friendship with M. Fenaille
      the _Balzac_ and the controversy it excited
      visits to Italy; articles
      in the _Musée_ quoted at length
      at the Paris Exhibition of 1900
      visit to Prague, 84; welcomed in London
      elected President of the International Society
      honours
      personal appearance
      portraits of him
      private life and home
      house and studios
      tastes
      travels
      as a talker
      social opinions
      influence
      friends and pupils
      characteristics of his art
      artistic descent and affinities
      place in the French school
      lost works
      paintings
      dry-points
      drawings and treatment of voluptuous subjects
      photographs of his works
      essentially a poet; as thinker
      classicism, his
      his symbolism
      his composition
      his conception of his art analysed
      fondness for small groups
      his treatment of costume
      his treatment of flesh
      his principles of portraiture
      his endeavour to give atmosphere
      his works treated to be viewed from all sides
      his modelling
      his study and power of representing movement
      dynamic character of his art
      his synthetic power
      his veracity
      his favourite type of woman, 42;
      influence and value of the antique
    _Ronde, The_ (dry-point)
    Rops
    Rosso
    Rousseau
    Rubens
    Rude

    _St. John Baptist_
    _St. John Baptist_ (torso)
    _St. John, Head of the Beheaded_ (marble)
    Saint Marceaux
    _St. Pierre, Eustacede_
    Salon, the
    _Sappho_
    Sargent
    _Sarmiento, Monument to President_
    Schnegg, Gaston and Lucien
    _Séverine, Bust of Madame_
    Sèvres
    _Shades, The_
    Société des Gens de Lettres
    _Spring, Eternal_
    _Spring_
    _Summer_

    Tanagra figures
    _Thinker, The_
    Thomas
    _Thought,_
    _Torso_ (nude female bronze)
    Turquet

    _Ugolino_
     (drawing)

    Values in painting and sculpture
    Van der Meer
    Van Rasbourg
    _Venus and Adonis_
    _Vicunha, Monument to the President_
    Villon

    Wagner, 119, 120
    Watteau, 81
    _Wave, The_
    Whistler
    _Wissant, Jacques and Pierre de_
    _Woman, Bust of_
    _Woman, Bust of a Young_
    _Woman, Bust of a Young_ (silver)
    _Women and Children_
    _Women Bathing_
    _Women Damned_





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