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Feb 22, 2022
Signed 'A. Rodin' along the base, bottom right; also signed on the underside and with 'ALEXIS RUDIER/FONDEUR PARIS' foundry stamp along the base verso, bronze with brown patina
Height: 6 1/2 in. (16.5cm)
Conceived before 1905; this model cast in 1943 in an edition of at least 5 examples.
Musée Rodin, Paris.
Acquired directly from the above in October 1943.
Collection of Eugène Rudier, Le Vésinet.
(Possibly) acquired from the above.
Private Estate, New Jersey, by 1950.
By descent in the family.
Private Collection, New Jersey.
Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin 1886-1917, Tudor Publishing Co., New York, 1964, Vol. II, no. 13 (the marble version illustrated, as The Hand of God, and dated 1897-1898).
Cécile Goldscheider and Ionel Jianou, Rodin, Paris, 1967, n.p., no. 52-53 (the marble version illustrated, dated circa 1890).
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 624-625 no. 121 (the 28 in. model illustrated, as The Hand of God and dated 1898).
Although Rodin always questioned the notions of salvation, redemption and damnation throughout his oeuvre, he never truly included God in his creations, John L. Tancock noting “Rodin sympathized with the sufferings of the souls in Hell more than he comprehended the Deity’s reasons for putting them there.” As such, the present work can be seen as a rather unexpected, unique reflection on God’s powers and Rodin’s own mortality.
Here, Rodin chooses to represent, or rather signify, God through a hand – a motif he may have derived from medieval iconography where God is often represented as a hand erupting from the sky, sometimes menacing, sometimes forgiving. Here, the hand itself is highly refined, almost elegant. Its extreme slenderness and smoothness in fact contrasts with what is inside: a barely discernable couple embracing, the very first man and woman in history, Adam and Eve. The dramatic contrast between the smooth and polished hand and the rough base surrounding it was a way for Rodin, not only to evoke God shaping the World and giving life to humanity, but also to Rodin 's role as a sculptor himself, who gives life to its medium. It this equilibrium which the artist gives to see through the present work. According to Tancock still, Rodin indeed “felt very strongly the correspondence between the creativity of God and that of the artist, insofar as they both created form out of the formless.”
The present work is one of three models based on the 35 inches high original marble version. It is one of 5 models of 6 inches high, 2 of which were cast by Alexis Rudier Foundry in 1943. Another bronze similar to this one can be found in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Fine Art, Cleveland, Ohio. A plaster version can be found in Musée Rodin, Paris as well as at the California Palade of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.
This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Critique de l'oeuvre sculpté d'Auguste Rodin currently being prepared by the Comité Rodin in collaboration with Galerie Brame & Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2022-6532B..
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