The Abduction of Hippodamia (L'Enlèvement d'Hippodamie)
Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse
(French, 1840-1917 and 1824-1887)
Signed Carrier-Belleuse, Stamped Bronze Garanti au Titre Paris and entitled Enlevement
Bronze with a dark brown patina with green and lighter brown highlights
Height: 25 1/2'' (65 cm)
Conceived in 1871, the bronze cast prior to 1888 when the Pinedo Foundry acquired the rights to the cast .
Provenance: Private Collection France.
The present work is the fruit of the compelling collaboration between the French master Auguste Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse before the start of the former artist’s independent career in the mid 1870’s.
The Abduction of Hippodamia is first documented in a 1871 catalogue for a sale in Brussels, which included a terracotta version of the model. At the time, Rodin was working for Carrier-Belleuse, who ran a large workshop to face the numerous commissions he received from all around Europe.
In recent years, the American scholar June Hargrove has highlighted that the Centaur's body, “which ripples with a bold musculature,” is characteristic of Rodin's male figures for the Vase of the Titans, which the artist sculpted around 1877 after a drawing by Carrier-Belleuse. Likewise, Hargrove points out how the screaming face of the Centaur is very similar to The Calls to Arms (1878) – Rodin’s submission for the Monument to the Defence of Paris.
Auguste Rodin, Vase of the Titans, 1877 (cast before 1887), terracotta, Bowman Sculpture (London)
Auguste Rodin, The Call to Arms, 1879 (cast 1925), bronze, Rodin Museum (Philadelphia)
Such visual evidence is so compelling that, although bearing the signature of Carrier Belleuse, the work is generally agreed to be a model by his pupil Rodin.
Much like its conception history, the iconography of the Abduction is dense in meaning. According to Greek mythology, the Lapiths, a peace-loving people of Thessaly, were celebrating the wedding of their King Pirithous to Hippodamia. The Centaurs were invited to the ceremony, but quickly began to misbehave. One of them, Eurytus, full of liquor, tried to carry off the bride, and soon a battle raged in which drinking vessels, table legs and antlers served as weapons. Finally, thanks to the intervention of Theseus, the Centaurs were driven off.
The story enjoyed great success in the history of art, inspiring artists from ancient to contemporary times. Particularly during the Renaissance, this particular scene symbolized the victory of civilization over barbarism.
Piero di Cosimo, The Fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, 1500-1515, oil on wood, National Gallery (London)
This model is in private and public institutions worldwide, including the National Gallery, Washington, USA; The Cincinnati Museum, USA; and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, USA.