AUGUSTE RODIN - his life, his work (3)



Rodin takes part of the decoration of the newly built Palais du Trocadéro.
He rents a studio in the Rue des Fourneaux.
In the summertime he makes an extensive journey to Nice and Marseille, where he works on ornamental plasterwork.


Call to arms, bronzeIn Paris, a competition starts for a monument about the Franco-Prussian War; when the entries are judged, Rodin's outline for 'Call to arms' is not even mentioned. His outline for a statue of the Republic which he later calls 'Bellona' - also with Rose as model - has just as little success. 
Rodin executes his second large statue, the monumental 'St. John the Baptist Preaching'.
He works part-time as a modeller in the Manufacture de Sèvres, where Carrier-Belleuse has been the director since 1876. Rodin decorates a number of vases and develops a new technique of drawing directly in the soft paste. The new director, Charles Lauth, rejects Rodin's work and orders to throw one of his first two vases away. The other vase, titled 'L´Elements',  attracts positive public attention and Lauth is forced to give it a worthy place in the Sèvres Museum.


Auguste Rodin in 1880He receives the commission for a statue of d'Alembert for the Hôtel de Ville.
On 11 Jan. Rodin has an interview with Turquet, state undersecretary  for Fine Arts, who wants to commission a bronze cast of the 'Age of Bronze', but needs an expertise contradicting the accusations raised in Belgium. A commission headed by deputy inspector Roger Ballu, however, does not believe Rodin has been able to model the work without surmoulage. Together with Turquet's protégé, Maurice Haquette, Rodin prepares a testimony, dated 23 Febr., signed by the best-known sculptors of that time, confirming Rodin's outstanding abilities.
'St. John the Baptist Preaching' and 'The Age of Bronze' are shown in the Salon; the latter wins a third-class medal and is finally purchased by the state. In August, it wins a gold medal in Ghent. Now the way is free for Rodin's career as an artist sculptor.
Rodin is beginning to frequent the salon of Mme Edmond Adam and Mme de Lionville, where he meets the writers Guy de Maupassant and Stéphane Mallarmé. 
Supported by Turquet, Rodin receives a further state commission to design a decorative portal of the proposed Musée des Arts Décoratifs based on the theme of Dante's 'Divine Comedy'. Rodin was inspired by  Ghiberti´s Gate of Paradise in Florence which he had seen during his trip to Italy. Later, Rodin chose a composition which divides the door into various sections or leafs, based on the example of Michelangelo's Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.  
Third Maquette of the Gates of Hell 'The Gates of Hell' shows a great number of figures, representing the damned souls trying to save themselves from the eternal flames. The most prominent subjects are the 'Thinker', representing the poet Dante, and the illicit love couple Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta, stabbed by Francesca's jealous husband.
Rodin will be preoccupied by the 'Gates' over nearly 40 years; but during his lifetime the plaster models never will be cast in bronze. Only by commission of the American collector Jules Mastbaum a bronze cast is made in 1926; a second cast is presented to the Musée Rodin. But many couples and single figures from the 'Gates' will be re-created as independent sculptures and worked out in bronze and marble during Rodin's lifetime.
To facilitate his intensive work on 'The Gates of Hell' and other commissions by the state, he is given the state-owned studios in the Dépôt des Marbres at the Rue de l´Université. At first he works in Studio M, in 1883 he gets Studio H for himself, in 1890 he will be given Studio J, where he continues to work on the 'Gates of Hell'.
Works on 'The Thinker', 'Young Woman with Child', 'The Limbo' and 'The Sirenes'.


Rodin makes the first of many trips to England; he is meeting his friend Alphonse Legros in London and learns the technique of drypoint. He also meets William Ernest Henley, Director of the Magzine of Art, and Robert Louis Stevenson. He loves the colours of the city and the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum.
Eve on the Rock, medium version, plaster He works on 'The Shades' and 'Eve'. One of Rodin's most-quoted anecdotes tells us he saw his model's appearance change from session to session. Rodin adapted his profiles till he learned one day that his model was pregnant. Rodin appreciated this as good luck because the accident led him to presenting Eve as the mother of mankind. Since his model, one of the Abruzzezzi sisters, left on a maternity leave with one of Rodin's assistants and did not return, however, Rodin was not able to finish the modeling. 

Rodin's 'St. John the Baptist Preaching' is bought by the state.


Bust of Carrier-BelleuseRodin begins a series of portrait busts of colleagues and writers, e.g. Carrier-Belleuse in terra-cotta.
The Claudel family moves to Paris, to enable Camille to pursue her artistic ambitions. In her atelier, at the 117 Rue Notre-Dame-des Champs, Camille organizes a sculpure class, mainly consisting of young English women and supervised by Alfred Boucher, who had taught her since she was fifteen.
Rodin now exhibits in the Salon every year. Further exhibitions at the Triennal Salon in Paris and at the Royal Academy and the Grosvenor Gallery in London. Intensive work on 'The Gates of Hell' and 'Ugolino'. 'Torso of Adèle'.


Rodin agrees to supervise Boucher's sculpture course during his absence and so meets Camille. Rodin falls in love with his talented pupil, Camille recognizes her chance to be tutored by the greatest sculptor talent of her time, who is just breaking through to fame.  A love letter, that for a long time has been suppressed and finally turned up in the house of Cécile Goldscheider, proves that already by the fall of 1883, while Camille is still 18,  Rodin and Camille had an intimate relationship. 
The artist writes to his "ferocious friend":

Camille Claudel "This morning I ran around (for hours) to all our spots without finding you. Death would be sweeter! And how long is my agony. Why didn't you wait for me in the atelier, where are you going? (...) In a single instant I feel your terrible force. Have pity, mean girl. I can't go on. I can't go another day without seeing you. Atrocious madness, it's the end, I won't be able to work anymore. Malevolent goddess, and yet I love you furiously... . (...) Let me see you every day, which would be a good idea and might make me better, for only you can save me with your generosity. Don't let this slow and hideous sickness overtake my intelligence, the ardened and pure love I have for you - in short, have pity, my beloved, and you will be rewarded."

These words already contain the essence of the drama that will unfold over the next 15 years: with her indifference and whims, Camille torments Rodin, wo in turn prospects a reward that in the end, he can and will not give - the only reward Camille is striving for, an exclusive bond between two equal partners, remains unattainable. Camille will be his model, his assistant, his artist-colleague and his lover, but Rodin will not give up his ties with Rose. 
Rodin is still working on the portrait series of artists (Dalou, Haquette, Becque) and on a bust of Victor Hugo.
After the death of his father he moves from the Rue des Fossés Saint-Jaques to the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Jaques.


Opening of the Salon des Indépendants.




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