• Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
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Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model

Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Signed A Rodin
Inscribed © by Musee Rodin 1964 and with the foundry mark Georges Rudier. Fondeur. Paris
Bronze with dark brown, black and green patination
Height: 16 1/8" (41 cm)

Conceived circa 1891 and cast in 1964. The Comité Rodin states that only 10 casts of this model were produced by the Alexis Rudier and Georges Rudier foundries between 1945 and 1965.


Conceived between 1890 and 1891, this example was cast in 1964 and is one of ten casts produced by the Alexis Rudier and Georges Rudier foundries between 1945 and 1965. No casts of this model in this size were made during the artist’s lifetime.

The conception of Iris can be seen in Rodin’s commission of the monument to Victor Hugo, the great Romantic writer, and specifically to the second maquette for the monument (The Apotheosis of Victor Hugo, 1891).

A.Rodin, Monument to Victor Hugo, Second Project, Sketch (or Apotheosis of Victor Hugo), Musée Rodin, 1891

In the maquette, the figure representing poetic inspiration and hanging upside-down on a cloud above Hugo, is shown complete with head, arms and a pair of wings. Rodin then removed these features, singling the figure out and enlarging it in 1895. As it stood upright, its ‘weightlessness earned it the name of Iris, Messenger of the Gods.

In Greek Mythology, Iris was the personification of the rainbow and carried messages between gods and humans. She travelled with the speed of the wind, reaching all corners of the earth and even descending into the underworld.

The model was received controversially during Rodin’s lifetime, eliciting both praise and shock, for its depiction of female genitalia. This was certainly heightened by the piece’s provocative title and as a headless figure, Iris’ sex appeared to be the centre of the sculptors focus and its sole means of communication.

Rodin created a large number of erotic drawings during this period, but these were seldom shown to the public. On the other hand, Iris was first exhibited as early as 1898 at the Sixth Secession exhibition in Munich, and was shown again in Belgium and the Netherlands in 1899. Likewise, it featured prominently at the exhibition in the Pavillon de l’Alma in 1900, as well as in other international exhibitions (e.g. Rome 1913) organised by the artist before his death in 1917.

A.Rodin, Nude Woman Raising her Right Leg, 1915 Musée Rodin

The reception of the piece during Rodin’s lifetime was mixed. The art critic and novelist Gustave Geoffrey referred to the piece as ‘the admirable Iris’ in a letter to Rodin dated 1907. Like Geoffrey, many collectors and art lovers were struck by the piece’s boldness when this was exhibited across Europe in the first years of the twentieth century. At the same time, the more prudish crowds rejected it – although the American collector Edward Perry Warden donated a cast of the work to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1908, it was deemed acceptable to put it on public display only 46 years later, in 1953.

Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World (Musée d’Orsay) might be considered the piece’s closest inspiration for the sculpture, however, like many of Rodin’s drawings, this potentially scandalous work had been part of a private collection since its creation in 1866, not publically displayed. However, it has been suggested that Rodin may have known the painting through the critic Edmond de Goncourt.

G.Courbet, The Origin of the World, Musée d’Orsay, 1866

Discussing the importance of Rodin’s sculpture, the English artist Anthony Caro stated in 2010, ‘Iris, Messenger of the Gods is the embodiment, the sculptural equivalent of flying. It says “flying” and it says “sculpture.” It is almost abstract.’ Caro’s words mark with precision the ground-breaking modernist appeal of this key work in Rodin’s oeuvre.

Such an appreciation of the piece was also shared by Lucien Freud, who is said to have placed the sculpture at the end of his bed during a period of his life.

A larger version of the sculpture from the collection of Sylvester Stallone, was sold at auction for £11.6 million in 2016.

Works by Auguste Rodin

Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger of the Gods), Study without Head, Small Model - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Iris, Messagère des Dieux (Messenger ...


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Torse Masculin (Masculine Torso)


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Buste de Victor Hugo (Bust of Victor ...


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Le Baiser (The Kiss), 3rd Reduction - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Le Baiser (The Kiss), 3rd Reduction


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Eustache de Saint Pierre


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Andrieu d'Andres


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(French, 1840-1917)

Jean d'Aire - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Jean d'Aire


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Jean de Fiennes - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Jean de Fiennes


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Pierre de Wiessant - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Pierre de Wiessant


Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Faunesse Zoubaloff - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Faunesse Zoubaloff


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Faunesse á Genoux (Kneeling Faunesse) - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Faunesse á Genoux (Kneeling Faunesse)


Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Éternelle Idole (Eternal Idol), Moyen Modèle - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Éternelle Idole (Eternal Idol), Moyen...


Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Main 20 (Hand 20), Petit Modèle - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Main 20 (Hand 20), Petit Modèle


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Nijinsky - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Nijinsky


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Buste de l'Âge d'Airain (Bust of the ...


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Portrait de Danseuse Cambodgienne (Po...


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(French, 1840-1917)

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

Croquis d'après les Tombeaux des Médi...


Auguste Rodin

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Femme Accroupie de Face (Female Figure Squatting, Frontal View) - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Femme Accroupie de Face (Female Figur...


Auguste Rodin

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Femme Nue aux Bras Levés Posant sur un Socle - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Femme Nue aux Bras Levés Posant sur u...


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(French, 1840-1917)

Couple Saphique (Sapphic Couple) - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Couple Saphique (Sapphic Couple)


Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Petite Figure Accroupie (Small Crouching Figure) - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Petite Figure Accroupie (Small Crouch...


Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Femme Nue a la Jambe Droite Soulevée (Nude Woman Raising her Right Leg) - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Femme Nue a la Jambe Droite Soulevée ...


Auguste Rodin

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Mère et Enfant (Mother and Child) - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mère et Enfant (Mother and Child)


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Éternelle Idole (Eternal Idol), Petit Modèle - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Éternelle Idole (Eternal Idol), Petit...


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

Le Baiser (The Kiss), 2nd Reduction


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The Kiss, 4th Reduction  - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

The Kiss, 4th Reduction


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Le Baiser (The Kiss), 4th Reduction - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Le Baiser (The Kiss), 4th Reduction


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L'Éternel Printemps (Eternal Spring), 4th Reduction - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

L'Éternel Printemps (Eternal Spring),...


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Balzac, étude type c (buste) 3ème version, grand modèle - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Balzac, étude type c (buste) 3ème ver...


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Faunesse Debout (Standing Faunesse), version with simple rock - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Faunesse Debout (Standing Faunesse), ...


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Eve, Small Model - Model with a Square Base and Flat Feet - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Eve, Small Model - Model with a Squar...


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Faunesse Debout (Standing Faunesse), Version au Rocher Simple - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

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L'Éternel Printemps (Eternal Spring), 3rd Reduction - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

L'Éternel Printemps (Eternal Spring),...


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(French, 1840-1917)

Fugit Amor, Large Model, Second Version - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Fugit Amor, Large Model, Second Version


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(French, 1840-1917)

Masque de l'Homme au Nez Cassé (Mask of A Man With A Broken Nose) - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Masque de l'Homme au Nez Cassé (Mask ...


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(French, 1840-1917)

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Right Hand 27


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Le Penseur (The Thinker)


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