Eve, Petit Modèle
Signed ‘A. Rodin’
Inscribed with the foundry mark Alexis Rudier. Fondeur. Paris. and with raised interior repeat signature 'A. Rodin'
Bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 29 3/8” (74.6 cm)
Conceived in 1881; this version created in this size in 1883; this bronze cast in 1946.
Provenance & Comité Rodin Certificate available on request.
Rodin’s original life-size sculpture of Eve was conceived in 1881, this smaller version with a square base and flat feet was cast in 1946. It was immensely popular during Rodin’s lifetime. The Comité Rodin estimates that around 40 casts were ordered by Rodin and the Musée Rodin until 1967 from the following foundries: Froincoise Rudier, Griffoul & Lorge, Perzinka, Alexis Rudier and Georges Rudier.
Eve is one of Rodin’s best-known and celebrated sculptures. He began working on a life-size study in 1881. He was forced to rework the pelvis of the figure each day, before eventually realising that the model was in fact pregnant. According to the sculptor, the model eventually became too tired to pose for long periods of time, so Rodin abandoned the work, originally perceiving it as unfinished.
Rodin initially conceived Eve to accompany the figure of Adam as a pair of flanking sculptures for his famous The Gates of Hell. In the photograph below, we see the figure of Eve after her temptation by the Devil. She stands upright, yet turns inwards to protect her body, illustrating her sin and fall from grace. She expresses intense passion in every muscle; the folding of her arms to shield her body, the tension of her neck and the locking of her thighs.
Unlike contemporary interpretations of Eve, which depicted her before the fall in all her radiant innocence, Rodin chose to portray the first-ever woman after her temptation by the Devil. His sculpture depicts her lost innocence through a confronting awareness of her nudity and the torturous guilt of her sinful thoughts.
Rainer Maria Rilke, the German poet who worked with Rodin from 1905 to 1906, was extremely impressed with Eve. “It shrivels like burning paper, it becomes stronger, more concentrated more animated. That Eve … stands with head sunk deeply into the shadow of the arms that draw together over the breast like those of a freezing woman,” he wrote.
Rilke, 1946, p 22
The theme of Eve after the Fall was very popular in the 19th century. Rodin drew considerable inspiration from Renaissance Masters during his trip to Italy in 1876, including Masaccio's Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence.
The life-size version of Eve was not shown to the public until 1899, when it was displayed with the base buried in the sandy floor of the Paris Salon exhibition hall in the Galerie des Machines on the Champ-de-Mars.
After abandoning the life-size model in 1881, Rodin began working on a smaller version, which he modelled with both a round and square base. This version differed from the life-size model in the figure’s hair and the position of the hands and feet.
A clay model of this reduction was exhibited in 1883, first at the Salon in Paris, then at the Royal Academy in London. The work was incredibly well received, which led to Rodin commissioning a series of marbles to be carved. These marbles incorporated minor variations, including the addition of a rocky structure behind Eve.
Emboldened by the public’s enthusiasm for the smaller model, Rodin returned to his original life-size plaster in 1899 and exhibited it, without any amendments, in Belgium and the Netherlands. In the same year, a life-size bronze cast of this plaster was displayed at the Paris Salon. Between 1901 and 1906, the sculptor commissioned Antoine Bourdelle to carve a colossal stone version of Eve, which was later purchased by Carl Jacobsen.
R.M. Rilke, Rodin, Issue 45 of Studies in French Literature, Haskell House Pub Limited, 1946. P, 22
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1929, no. 55, p. 41 (illustration of the marble version)
Judith Cladel, Auguste Rodin, sa vie glorieuse, sa vie inconnue, Paris, 1936
Ionel Jianou & Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, pl.17 (illustration of the plaster)
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, no. 8-5, p. 154 (illustration of another cast)
Albert E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, 1985, no. 64, pp. 74 -78 (illustrations of another cast)
Raphäel Masson & Véronique Mattiusi, Rodin, Paris, 2004, p. 39 (illustration of another cast)
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of the Works in the Musée Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 2007, pp. 340 & 341 (illustrations of other casts)