Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
'The Fallen Angel'
Height 53 cm
Inscribed 'A. Rodin' on the upper surface of the base and 'Alexis Rudier/Fondeur. Paris' on the back of the base
Museum no. A.37-1914
Given by the artist
Rodin explored the human form in extreme physical and emotional states in a number of works (for example, The Prodigal Son). Here a winged figure has collapsed on the ground and is held by a second naked female. The group is thought to evoke the vain flight of our illusions, though the intimacy of the two figures may also reflect Rodin's interest in the writing of Baudelaire.
He also extracted single figures from groups to create individual pieces, such as The Muse, or used existing individual figures in new combinations to form groups. The winged figure here, for example, is based on the Torso of Adèle, first modelled in the late 1880s as a siren figure for a villa in Nice and reused later on The Gates of Hell (upper left of the tympanum) and as a kneeling figure in Eternal Spring.
Rodin's appreciation of the formal aspects of the human body and his facility for creating new compositions was inspired by his vast collection of models and plaster casts. Turning them in his hand, he examined their formal properties and considered how the different pieces might be combined to create new sculpture.
This group has been known as The Fall of Icarus, and Illusions Received by the Earth, but is now generally accepted by its present title. Just as Rodin changed the formal elements of his sculpture he also changed their titles with equal facility. (See also La France, Museum no. A.39-1914)