Rodin sculptant

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Technique : Lithography


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Bibliography : Delteil, cat. n° 39

This lithograph was printed on two stones and used as a poster for the Rodin Pavilion at the 1900 Universal Exhibition. It was also included in the 1907 retrospective devoted to "The Work of Eugène Carrière" (cat. no. 283), which was held at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris between May and June 1907. This print is a direct commission from Auguste Rodin to Eugène Carrière, and it was most probably Rodin who asked the artist to depict him working on a sculpture. Victor-Emile Michelet was present at one of the posing sessions and testifies that: "Carrière takes his brushes to make a portrait of Rodin handling a group of plaster. [...] His violent mask tightens like a bowstring. His eyes are fierce like those of cats when they look at the Invisible. He not only sees the powerful head of the great statuary, he sees everything that shakes around. He looks like a great beast stalking its prey. His whole body is motionless like the white plaster casts that glorify the studio, ghosts of light. Only the arms move. We keep the silence of these statues. But if we spoke, Carrière would not hear: he seems to me like the Sibyl on the tripod, deaf to human voices. 

The famous portraitist represents Rodin sculpting Le Réveil (The Awakening). The work, which was exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1900, is, according to Antoine Le Normand-Romain, a reworking of an earlier creation, the kneeling Faun. This lithograph is a poignant testimony to the friendship between Rodin and Carrière. This friendship was born in the early 1880s. Evolving in the same spheres, they probably met through the critic Claude Roger-Marx. Both founding members of the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890, Rodin and Carrière exhibited together in 1896 at the Rath Museum in Geneva alongside Puvis de Chavannes and supported each other relentlessly. In 1898, Eugène Carrière defended Rodin's Balzac, which had been shouted down during its presentation at the SNBA, but the sculptor refused the subscription that his friend proposed to launch with others. The personal exhibition that Rodin organised in 1900 was a response to the critic's affront. The sculptor's request to Eugène Carrière to design the poster for the event attests to the closeness between the two men. Stricken with cancer in 1902, Eugène Carrière's health declined rapidly, and Rodin organised a banquet in his honour, then helped his family after the painter's death in 1906. In particular, he bought the painting Tendresse, exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1905, and then gave it to the Musée du Luxembourg. As a sign of the esteem in which Eugène Carrière held Rodin, he wrote to him in 1903: "You are the greatest joy I have found in my life as an artist".