Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rodin's "Les Amants" and Other Drawings

I'm not being at all original when I state that, in my book, Auguste Rodin ranks as the best sculptor we have had after Michelangelo. His drawings too have always captivated me. They seem so offhand, a quick suggestion of form that may or may not lead to a more monumental undertaking later. The drawings are essential to Rodin's thinking as an artist.

Here's a beautiful example, circa 1910, from the 2001 art auction market:

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Les amants
indistinctly signed 'Aug Rodin' (lower right)
watercolor and pencil on paper
12¾ x 9 7/8 in. (32.5 x 25 cm.)
Drawn circa 1910 


Provenance

Anon. sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, 21 May 1975, lot 18. 
Acquired at the above sale by the present owners.

Price Realized 

  • $21,150
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $20,000 - $30,000

Sale Information

Sale 9774 Lot 433
IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN WORKS ON PAPER 
7 November 2001
Christie's New York, Rockefeller Plaza


Here are a few more Rodin drawings from the same 2001 sale.  I don't think any of these are of the same quality as "Les Amants," although the very last drawing did get a slightly higher sale price.  In general, they don't have enough contrast to reproduce well here.  All of these lots were the property of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Lyon of California.

It is widely known and remarked that there are more forgeries of Rodin drawings than authentic ones.  Unless you are an expert in Rodin drawings, I think it would be unwise to buy one from anyone but a reputable dealer or auction house.


Lot 435
Deux nus
pencil and gouache on graph paper laid down on paper
6 5/8 x 9¾ in. (16.9 x 24.8 cm.); irregular
Drawn circa 1893-1894 

Provenance

Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles.
Acquried from the above by the present owners, 1972.
Pre-Lot Text
PROPERTY OF MR. AND MRS. LEON LYON, CALIFORNIA
Exhibited
Long Beach, California State University, The Art Galleries, The Lyon Collection: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper, March-May 1976 (illustrated).
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Rodin Rediscovered, June 1981-May 1982, p. 338, no. 309 (illustrated, p. 176, no. 7.44).

Price Realized 

  • $11,163
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $9,000 - $12,000



Lot 436
Etude de nu
pencil and gouache on paper laid down at the edges on paper
6¾ x 4¼ in. (17.3 x 10.8 cm.) 

Provenance

Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 1971.
Pre-Lot Text
PROPERTY OF MR. AND MRS. LEON LYON, CALIFORNIA
Exhibited
Long Beach, California State University, The Art Galleries, The Lyon Collection: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper, March-May 1976.

Price Realized 

  • $14,100
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $8,000 - $10,000


Lot 437
Etude de nu
pencil and gouache on paper laid down at the edges on paper
6 7/8 x 4 1/8 in. (17.2 x 10.6 cm.) 

Provenance

Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 1971.
Pre-Lot Text
PROPERTY OF MR. AND MRS. LEON LYON, CALIFORNIA
Exhibited
Long Beach, California State University, The Art Galleries, The Lyon Collection: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper, March-May 1976.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Rodin Rediscovered, June 1981-May 1982, p. 338, no. 310 (illustrated, p. 176, no. 7.45).

Price Realized 

  • $7,050
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $8,000 - $10,000
Lot 438
Etude de nu
pencil and gouache on paper
6¾ x 4¼ in. (17.3 x 10.8 cm.) 

Provenance

Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 1971.
Pre-Lot Text
PROPERTY OF MR. AND MRS. LEON LYON, CALIFORNIA
Exhibited
Long Beach, California State University, The Art Galleries, The Lyon Collection: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper, May-March 1976 (illustrated).

Price Realized

  • $7,050
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $8,000 - $10,000


Lot 439
Etude de nu
pencil and gouache on paper laid down at the edges on paper
6 7/8 x 4¼ in. (17.3 x 10.9 cm.) 

Provenance

Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 1971.
Pre-Lot Text
PROPERTY OF MR. AND MRS. LEON LYON, CALIFORNIA
Exhibited
Long Beach, California State University, The Art Galleries, The Lyon Collection: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper, March-May 1976.

Price Realized

  • $7,050
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $8,000 - $10,000

Lot 440
Etude de nu


pencil and gouache on paper laid down at the edges on paper 
6¾ x 4¼ in. (17.3 x 10.8 cm.) 

Provenance

Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 1971.
Pre-Lot Text
PROPERTY OF MR. AND MRS. LEON LYON, CALIFORNIA
Exhibited
Long Beach, California State University, The Art Galleries, The Lyon Collection: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper, March-May 1976.

Price Realized

  • $7,050
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $8,000 - $10,000



Lot 441
Etude de nu
watercolor and pencil on paper laid down on paper mounted on masonite
12 1/8 x 9¼ in. (30.9 x 23.6 cm.) 

Provenance

Feingarten Galleries, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owners, 1970.
Pre-Lot Text
PROPERTY OF MR. AND MRS. LEON LYON, CALIFORNIA
Exhibited
Long Beach, California State University, The Art Galleries, The Lyon Collection: Modern and Contemporary Works on Paper, March-May 1976.

Price Realized

  • $22,325
  • Price includes buyer's premium
Estimate
    $12,000 - $16,000

June 29, 2013 Update:  In response to a comment left today by james holland, I am reproducing here the Pre-Lot Text from the Christie's sale, which I hope will help to mollify his concerns about the authenticity of these drawings.
http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/auguste-rodin-les-amants-3807408-details.aspx?from=salesummary&intObjectID=3807408&sid=d7180b85-8130-4dad-bc53-eef0a9a91e09

June 30, 2013 Update:  Wouldn't you know it? I get one--count 'em--one controversial comment on the blog all year and it's deleted by the author withing 24 hours, no doubt a result of my insightful response. So much for Attempted Bloggery's shining prospects for becoming a virtual salon of enlightened discussion about the arts.

Well, I don't have to put up with this! For the sake of continuity, here's the original, unexpurgated comment that prompted me to add the Pre-Lot Text to this blog post yesterday followed by my rather expansive reply. Let this serve as a warning to those of you who think it doesn't matter what you post on the Internet because you can always delete it. By the way, the author of the deleted comment describes himself as "an artist/art-historian." Very well, I describe myself as a bon vivant. Anyway, it would appear I have gone and lost another reader!
The now-deleted comment with my reply from the comments section of this post as it appeared on June 29, 2013 after 8:41 p.m. EDT. In retrospect, my sentence beginning with "I'd think it advisable..." was pretty heavy-handed.


Note:  I realize I have not yet posted images of any of M. Rodin's sculpture, so it's perhaps not a ripe time to pose a serious question regarding sculptural prowess.  Anyway, just as an aside, for those many who go along with this I think obvious assessment of Michelangelo's and Rodin's relative rank as sculptors, who in the wide history of art would deserve third place?  Ha, you thought this was going to be easy!


I have no previous posts on Rodin per se, but my post on Blechman's 'Bot would not have been possible without The Thinker.  You can read it here.

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4 comments:

  1. Being somewhat of a Renaissance chick and a turtle freak I’d go with Donatello (strictly from and from an academic point of view). However, my Western roots (like my grey hair) may be showing when I mention Remington. There is a lot of poetry of motion expressed in Remington’s bronzes…you almost expect to hear both the cowboys and horses grunt. I’m not a huge fan of western themed art but Remington like Russell, his contemporary, certainly defined the genre.

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  2. I posed an unfairly tough question a week ago, something akin to asking who is the best writer after Shakespeare. With only one person, Sous-Chef, responding to the vexing question of who is art history's third best sculptor, we nevertheless seem to have multiple answers! So, if I'm reading this right, the third best sculptor after Michelangelo and Rodin is a tie between Donatello and Frederic Remington, with honorable mention going to Charles M. Russell and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Which is exactly the answer I was looking for!

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    Replies
    1. First of all, thank you, james holland, for taking the time to leave a comment, and a controversial one at that! While I'd like to say that Attempted Bloggery is no stranger to controversy, the truth is that most of the comments here are of the gentle cheerleading variety: "Thanks for posting"--that sort of thing.

      I've occasionally wondered which artwork displayed here on the blog is possibly not authentic, and while I'm well aware of the problem of forged Rodin drawings, I never really harbored much doubt about these particular ones. They come out of a major collection, and they have been exhibited publicly. While their sales history may only go back to 1970, it's likely that the provenance of most Rodin drawings is not meticulously documented back to the artist's lifetime.

      When I created this post almost two years ago back in what was only my second month of blogging, I used Christie's.com as my only source. Frankly, I was not quite sure what I should and should not include. I decided to omit the lengthy Pre-Lot Text from the post, which included a discussion of authenticity and the quality of Rodin's drawings. I have added it to the post today, in the hopes that it will add some insight into why Christie's felt comfortable listing these as genuine Rodin drawings.

      Admittedly, determining which of Rodin's purported drawings are authentic when there are more fakes than real ones is not an easy task. While all of us are entitled to our opinions, this thorny issue is probably best left to the experts. The major auction houses and art dealers have an interest in not selling forgeries, as their reputations are on the line in every sale. They have a well-educated staff and access to leading experts in cases where there are questions of authenticity. Before calling seven drawings sold by Christie's into question, I'd think it advisable to have similar command of scholarship in the field.

      I too like the first drawing the most. It has contrast and texture that are absent in the others. But the purpose of Rodin's drawing was not to produce exquisite works on paper; it was to work out ideas of the human figure and form. In some sense, his drawings are more akin to what an architect creates in early rough drawings, studies of form to be either discarded or further elaborated later on.

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