Auguste Rodin


Auguste Rodin : biography

12 November 1840 – 1 November 1917

The next opportunity for Rodin in America was the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.The Indefatigable Miss Hallowell, Page 6 Hallowell wanted to help promote Rodin’s work and he suggested a solo exhibition, which she wrote him was beaucoup moins beau que l’original but impossible, outside the rules. Instead, she suggested he send a number of works for her loan exhibition of French art from American collections and she told him she would list them as being part of an American collection.Rodin: The Shape of Genius, Page 399 Rodin sent Hallowell three works, Cupid and Psyche, Sphinx and Andromeda. All nudes, these works provoked great controversy and were ultimately hidden behind a drape with special permission given for viewers to see them.The Documented Image, Page 97

Fortunately, Bust of Dalou and Burgher of Calais were on display in the official French pavilion at the fair and so between the works that were on display and those that were not, he was noticed. However, the works he gave Hallowell to sell found no takers, but she soon brought the controversial Quaker-born financier Charles Yerkes (1837–1905) into the fold and he purchased two large marbles for his Chicago manse; Yerkes was likely the first American to own a Rodin sculpture.Franch, John (2006). Robber Baron: The Life of Charles Tyson Yerkes. Urbana: University of Illinois Press; p. 209.

Other collectors soon followed including the tastemaking Potter Palmers of Chicago and Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) of Boston, all arranged by Sarah Hallowell. In appreciation for her efforts at unlocking the American market, Rodin eventually presented Hallowell with a bronze, a marble and a terra cotta. When Hallowell moved to Paris in 1893, she and Rodin continued their warm friendship and correspondence, which lasted to the end of the sculptor’s life.Extensive correspondence in Musee Rodin After Hallowell’s death, her niece, the painter Harriet Hallowell, inherited the Rodin’s and after her death, the American heirs could not manage to match their value in order to export them, so they became the property of the French state.The indefatigable Miss Hallowell, page 8

Great Britain

After the start of the 20th century, Rodin was a regular visitor to Great Britain, where he developed a loyal following by the beginning of the First World War. He first visited England in 1881, where his friend, the artist Alphonse Legros, had introduced him to the poet William Ernest Henley. With his personal connections and enthusiasm for Rodin’s art, Henley was most responsible for Rodin’s reception in Britain. (Rodin later returned the favor by sculpting a bust of Henley that was used as the frontispiece to Henley’s collected works and, after his death, on his monument in London.

Through Henley, Rodin met Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Browning, in whom he found further support.Hale, 73. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of British artists, students, and high society for his art, Rodin donated a significant selection of his works to the nation in 1914.

During his later creative years, Rodin’s work turned increasingly toward the female form, and themes of more overt masculinity and femininity. He concentrated on small dance studies, and produced numerous erotic drawings, sketched in a loose way, without taking his pencil from the paper or his eyes from the model. Rodin met American dancer Isadora Duncan in 1900, attempted to seduce her,Hale, 10. and the next year sketched studies of her and her students. In July 1906, Rodin was also enchanted by dancers from the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, and produced some of his most famous drawings from the experience.

Fifty-three years into their relationship, Rodin married Rose Beuret. The wedding was 29 January 1917, and Beuret died two weeks later, on 16 February. Rodin was ill that year; in January, he suffered weakness from influenza, and on 16 November his physician announced that "congestion of the lungs has caused great weakness. The patient’s condition is grave." Rodin died the next day, age 77, at his villa in Meudon, Île-de-France, on the outskirts of Paris.