Jardinière des Titans (Vase of the Titans)
Signed A. Carrier Belleuse.
Height: 15 ½" (39.1 cm)
Conceived 1877 and this work created before 1887.
Provenance & Comité Rodin certificate available on request
The present example is an extremely fine terracotta cast of a work modelled by Rodin whilst he was in the employment of the eminent Romantic sculptor, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. At this time, Carrier was one of the best-known sculptors in 19th-century Europe, working as the director of the Sèvres porcelain works. He employed a large studio to help him execute the numerous public and private commissions he received.
It is clear from a drawing now in the collection of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Calais, and also recorded by June Hargrove in ‘Life and Work of Albert Carrier-Belleuse’, that Carrier designed the vase himself before giving the project over to Rodin to execute.
Carrier-Belleuse, La Pêche, ca 1876, graphite and on paper, Musée des Beaux-Arts Calais (image courtesy of Musée des Beaux-Arts Calais)
The pencil drawing is typical of Carrier and shows languorous figures atop an ornate pedestal supporting a large, bulbous vase. However, the sculptural realisation of the design is unanimously attributed to Rodin.
The four Titans, mythological giants conquered by the gods of Olympus and doomed to support the hefty vessel, have been imbued with strong introverted gestures and robust musculature. This is typical of Rodin’s work at this stage in his career and reminiscent of Michelangelo’s figures on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Between 1875 and 1876, the young sculptor took a long-awaited trip to Italy. In a letter to his long-term partner, Rose Beuret, he wrote that he had managed to learn a few of Michelangelo’s secrets. “I believe,” he told Rose, “that the great magician is revealing a few of his secrets to me.” (Beausire and Pine, 1985, p.33) One can see a similar handling of the male form in Rodin’s seminal Thinker, which he modelled three years after the present work in 1880.
The Vase of the Titans was exhibited in 1957 during the exhibition Rodin, ses collaborateurs et ses amis at the Musée Rodin and was also produced in a glazed ceramic version that can be found in several museum collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Musée Rodin. However, the surface of the ceramic is devoid of the texture and detail of the terracotta works, which were cast in sections, then assembled and finished by hand.
Alain Beausire and Hélène Pinet (eds), Correspondance de Rodin, vol. 1, 1860–1899 (Paris: 1985)
Catherine Lampert, Rodin: Sculpture and Drawings (London: 1986), pp. 18-19, 194-195 (another version illustrated))
Cecile Goldscheider, Auguste Rodin: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre sculpté, vol. I (Paris: 1989), p.10 (another version illustrated).
H. W. Janson, "Rodin and Carrier- Belleuse: The Vase des Titans" in Art Bulletin, (September: 1968), pp. 278-80.
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin (Philadelphia: 1976), p. 582, no. 238, 240 (another version illustrated).
J. Hargrove and G. Grandjean eds, Carrier-Belleuse: Le maître de Rodin (Paris: 2014), pp. 114-117, no. 78 (another version illustrated).
Peter Fusco and H.W.Janson, The Romantics to Rodin, French 19th century Sculpture (Los Angeles: 1980), p.333 and 334, illust. nr. 194.