Gary Arseneau - Gary Arseneau - Deception: Are These Really Rodins?: Are These Really Rodins?


The "Declarations of Authentication" for the MacLaren Art Centreís plasters were completed and authenticated by Dr. David Schaff. The title of the cover letter for these "Declarations" is: "Attestations of Authenticity for a Collection of Twenty one works in plaster by Auguste Rodin."

To carefully lay a foundation for factually evaluating these "Declarations" for these "plasters" promoted in writing as "authentic", first letís define certain key terms "provenance" and "authentic."

The auction house Sothebyís on their website (www.sothebys. com) defines "provenance" as: 

"The history ownership of the property being sold. This can be an important part of the authentication process as it establishes the chain for ownership back (if possible) to the time the piece was mad."

Blackís Law Dictionary defines "authentic" as: 

"Genuine; true, real: pure; reliableí trustworthy; having the character and authority of an original."

In the "Attestations of Authenticity for a Collection of twenty-one works in plaster by Auguste Rodin" cover letter Dr. Schaff writes: 

"I have reviewed original documentation for the major works, which substantiated their provenance."

 Does Dr. Schaff provide copies of that documentation? Provenance without documentation is not worth the paper itís not printed on. Also Dr. Schaffís writes: 

"{He} examined every work in person. This examination took place on a number of occasions, both before the conservation of some of the plasters and after its completion." 

Aside the number of occasions he examined these "plasters", what does Dr. Schaff mean by "conservation" of these plasters?

This is answered, in part, when Dr. Schaff writes: 

"It is my conclusion that conservation has returned their surfaces to those created by Rodin." 

Regardless of Dr. Schaffís opinion, what was the photographic documented condition of these plasters before these posthumous "conservation" changes were made and specifically what was altered? Who authorized this "conservation" and who was it that was entrusted with the responsibility of subjectively substituting their judgment for Auguste Rodin in this posthumous "conservation" of these alleged "Rodin plasters?"

Letís address three independent and published documented facts which put Dr. Schaffís written assertions in serious doubt.

First, as documented earlier, on page 253 in the National Gallery of Artís published 1981 Rodin Rediscovered exhibition catalogue, Stanford Professor and Rodin scholar Albert Elsen states: 

"By 1900, it seems Lebosse was personally doing most if not all, of the enlargements {in plaster} in a separate part of the studio and probably left the less exacting reductions to others." 

Would the credibility of the "conservation" of these "Rodin plasters", that "returned their surfaces to those created by Rodin", be potentially seriously flawed if one was to leave out the historical contribution by Auguste Rodinís "sculpteur reproducteur habituel", Henri Lebosse and othersí substantial and documented contribution in their enlargements and reduction? So much for "return{ing} their surfaces to those created by Rodin."

Second and once again as documented earlier, the Musee Rodin on their current 2001 "" website writes: 

"Consequently, whenever it is decided to release a new "subject", a copy is first made from the old mould which can be sent without risk to the foundry where it undergoes the necessary preparations for casting. It is coated with an unmoulding agent, usually in a dark colour, and cut, before being cast again. This practice not only ensures absolute fidelity to the original but also preserves the old plasters which are obviously more valuable since they were made during the lifetime of Rodin." 

So the "conservation" of these posthumous "plaster" reproductions might return their surfaces to those subjectively and posthumously reproduced by the "Musee Rodin" and not by Monsieur Rodin because heís still dead.

Third and most serious and glaring flaw in the authentication for these "Rodin plasters" is the documented reference to "Signature" and being "signed A. Rodin." Once again as documented earlier, in referring to Auguste Rodinís lifetime practice of signing his bronzes, on page 22 in the former Musee Rodin curator Monique Laurentís 1988 RODIN book, she states: 

"Most of the bronzes are stamped with artistís signature (copied from an example supplied by him and also with the stamp of the foundry). Some, although perfectly authentic, are unsigned. But there is no question of any of them being numbered or dated; these are modern methods, linked with notion of rarity and speculation in art."

The historical documentation states that Auguste Rodin, during his lifetime, had the foundries trace his name to his bronzes from a sample supplied by him. The Musee Rodin acknowledges that they posthumously reproduce plaster reproductions from Auguste Rodinís original plasters to send to the foundries. The thirty-seven of the forty-eight plasters in the MacLaren Art Centre exhibition checklist are listed as "foundry cast" and/or "studio or foundry cast." If this did not sway you that these "plasters" are posthumous fakes, the counterfeit "A. Rodin" signature applied should leave you with no doubt. As documented earlier the legal definition of "signature" is: "Personsí names written in their own hand."

In the "Conclusion" for these "declarations" Dr. Schaff states: 

"Allowing for the normal practice of the artistís studio, I conclude that these are original works by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)." 

That would seem to be at best wishful thinking, wouldnít you say?



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