Archival collection of Sybil Mignon Cooke and Rodin
Acquired by the Musée Rodin, Paris.
Auguste Rodin is considered to be one of the greatest artists of all times, as well as the greatest sculptor of the 19th- and 20th-century. The artist left his studio in Paris, the Hôtel Biron, in his will to the French State, now known as the Musée Rodin, housing the largest collection of his work as a sculptor and draughtsman. The artist’s work is represented in major Museums and important private collections throughout the world. Rodin’s will expressed his desire that the French State kept editing the bronze casts of his works, contributing to the gravity of his legacy.
Born in Paris in 1840, Rodin studied drawing at the Petite École together with fellow sculptor and friend Aimé-Jules Dalou. He moved to Belgium at the age of 24, struggling to find work in the French capital, and joined the atelier of Carrier-Belleuse.
A trip to Florence in 1875 and the encounter with Michelangelo’s works represented a turning point in his career. Upon his return, Rodin conceived and presented the infamous sculpture The Age of Bronze at the Paris Salon. Initially rejected by the judges as being a cast of an actual person, the work was eventually accepted, marking the beginning of the artist’s fame, which grew exponentially until his death in 1917. Among the Rodin’s most famous works are The Kiss, The Thinker and Eternal Spring – all conceived for his lifetime-project of the Gates of Hell – a massive set of doors originally planned for the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris but never delivered by the artist. His major public monuments include The Burghers of Calais, The Monument to Balzac and The Monument to Victor Hugo.
In light of his influence on the following generations of artists and sculptors in France and abroad, Auguste Rodin is considered the father of modern sculpture. In this circumstance, it is impossible not to mention the work of Camille Claudel – the artist’s most famous pupil and lover. The relationship between Claudel and Rodin has been subject to numerous books and films, representing a flourishing moment in the career of both artists until Rodin’s decision to leave Claudel for his lifelong companion, Rose Beuret, in the early 1890s.
More broadly, Rodin’s wide-ranging influence was highlighted in the 2017 Grand Palais exhibition in Paris, marking the centenary of the artist’s death.
Bowman Sculpture is the leading gallery offering authentic Rodin sculpture in lifetime bronzes. Museum sales include She who once was the Helmet-Maker’s Beautiful Wife to the Van Gogh Museum and the correspondence between the artist and his model, Sybil Mignon Cooke, to the Musée Rodin.
Solo exhibitions in London comprised the 2014 show ‘In Private Hands,’ bringing together the largest group of the sculptor’s bronzes after the Royal Academy’s exhibition ‘Rodin,’ and ‘The Birth of Modern Sculpture’ (2017) – the only solo show organised in the UK honouring the artist’s centenary.