Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
'Torso of a Woman'
Bronze on plaster pedestal
Height 64 cm (torso only)
Marked 'Alexis. Rudier/Fondeur, Paris'
Museum no. A.38-1914
Given by the artist
Rodin in his studio, by William Rotherstein (1908-1993). Museum no. E.2134-1920 (click image for larger version)
The free approach to form, sources and media that can be seen in Rodin's work anticipates developments in later 20th-century sculpture. He studied and collected classical art, and later in life made assemblages. Here he has placed his own bronze torso on a plaster cast of a classical marble pedestal from his own collection.
The truncation of the torso highlights its formal properties, making it more abstract and less naturalistic. Rodin sometimes asked his models to sit on the ground with their back to him, arms and legs outstretched in front. 'In that position', he said, 'the back, which narrows at the waist and enlarges at the hips resembles an exquisitely curved vase, an amphora which contains within its flanks the life of the future'. By setting the torso on a classically derived plinth, Rodin invited viewers to see the bronze as something set apart to be admired, just like an ancient Greek vase.
A recent inspection of the bronze torso has revealed the presence of many of the metal pins that held the sand core in position during the casting process.