• Croquis d'après les Tombeaux des Médicis par Michel-Ange Á Florence - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Croquis d'après les Tombeaux des Médicis par Michel-Ange Á Florence - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
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Croquis d'après les Tombeaux des Médicis par Michel-Ange Á Florence

Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Recto: Pen and brown ink on wove paper
Verso: pencil on paper
Dimensions: 14 3/4 x 9 5/8" (37.3 x 24.4 cm)

Conceived and drawn in 1902


This double-sided drawing demonstrates Rodin’s ever-lasting fascination with the work of Michelangelo. The recto of the drawing is inspired by the Florentine artist’s monumental tombs for the Medici family, which can be seen in the sacristy of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence, while the verso is instead inspired by Michelangelo’s Descent from the Cross, also known as The Deposition or Bandini Pietà, now part of the Florentine Museo dell’Opera del Duomo.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Tombs of Giuliano di Lorenzo (with Night and Day) and Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici (with Dusk and Dawn), Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence

Rodin first visited Italy in 1875, in search of inspiration and longing to study the Renaissance masters. In a famous letter to his life-long companion Rose Beuret, he wrote:

‘If I say that since the moment I set foot in Florence I have been studying Michelangelo you won’t be surprised, and I think that great magician has yielded me some of his secrets. Yet none of his pupils, or his masters, was like him. I cannot understand that, as I look at the people he actually taught, and find that the secret lies in him and him alone.’

The line connecting Rodin’s work to Michelangelo finds its place early in the sculptor’s career. In this light, it is striking to notice how the drawing, which was produced around 1902, dates to 27 years after the sculptor’s trip to Italy. Having been drawn from memory rather than direct observation, the present piece demonstrates the artist’s impressive visual memory, which he exercised at the Petite École under his master Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran.

Compared to earlier depictions of the sacristy, which were produced by Rodin immediately after his visit to Florence, the present piece shows the development of the artist’s relationship with the Florentine master throughout the years. While with the 1870s drawings Rodin intends to study the sculptural lesson of Michelangelo, the present piece demonstrates his now established confidence in his work – instituting a dialogue with his predecessor as an equal artist, rather than looking up to him as a pupil looks at a master.

Rodin, Etude d’après l’Aurore de Michel-Ange, 48.5 x 62.7 cm, 1877, Musée Rodin

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Le Baiser (The Kiss), 2nd Reduction - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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