• Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Helmet Maker's Wife - Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
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Helmet Maker's Wife

Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Acquired by The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

Signed A. Rodin with foundry mark Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris
Bronze with dark brown and blue patina, executed by Jean Limet (1855 - 1941), personal assistant of August Rodin
Height: 20 inches (50.6 cm)

Conceived 1885-1887, cast 1930.


The present work, She who was once the Helmet Makers Beautiful Wife, is also known as The Old Courtesan and Winter. The subject was the mother of one of Rodin’s male models. The woman, named Caira, had come to Rodin’s studio to see her son one last time before she died, apparently making the journey from Italy by foot. When Rodin met Caira he was immediately taken with her ageing skin, which hung from an elegant bone structure. Rodin asked her to stay and model for him.Rodin was fascinated by the inevitable decline of the human body, perceiving the physical changes not as ugliness but rather as adding character and personality. As in his choice of The Man with the Broken Nose Rodin saw what some perceived as ugliness to be a beauty that gave the subject an interest far greater than conventional prettiness. He commented: ‘In art, only that which has character is beautiful. Character is the essential truth of any natural object.’The art critic Paul Gsell associated the sculpture in his ‘Conversations with Rodin’ with the poem of François Villon—a monologue of the expired beauty of the old helmet-maker’s wife: “Ah, wicked old age Why have you struck me down so soon? When I think, alas! of the good times, What I was, what I have become, This is the fate of human beauty!”

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