Rodin Works:  Idyll of Ixelles


The idyll of Ixelles, 1876The title of this sculpture is derived from the Brussels neighbourhood in which Rodin lived between 1871 and 1877. In the Collection of the Ixelles Museum, a bronze cast of the sculpture can be found among other works made by Rodin. The marble sculpture on which this cast is based, was made by Rodin in Paris in 1881, for the collector Joseph-Benoît Willems. The original plaster, which was modelled earlier, is lost. The similarity to the decorative works Rodin made during his years in Brussels suggests a date of execution during this period .

The sculpture consists of two figures, a seated baby boy and a winged baby girl bending over him with outstrechted hands. The embrace of the boy is not returned by the girl, who, although her chin rests on his head, shows not the same kind of affection. He in contrast is nestling up to her chest, holding her closely with his hands, as if he is seeking for consolation. Facos suggests that the scene may represent the mourning of a young boy for his beloved deceased sister . In this sense, the scene may have possessed some autobiographical relevance: Rodin had severely suffered after the death of his sister Maria in 1862.

In a late variation of the 'Cupid and Psyche' theme, exhibited in the Musée Rodin, we again find two characters looking childlike and chubby, like baroque putti, as if Rodin in his last years of active modelling has recurred once more to his 'Idyll of Ixelles'.

Despite the rather traditional and sweetish character of the composition, the 'Idyll of Ixelles' - like many other Rodin works - met critique and resistance from certain parties. 
In 1886, the sculpture was rejected for exhibition of the Royal Academy in London. In a letter to The Times, Edward Armitage, Prof. of Painting at the Royal Academy, complained that to many contributions by outsiders were shown in the Royal Academy exhibitions, and defended the rejection of Rodin's sculpture because of "the intrinsic badness of the work itself".



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