AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917) Satan et un adorateur (Serpent) drawing: 12 x 15.2cm (4 3/4 x 6in).; artist's mount: 15.5 x 18.5cm (6 1/8 x 7 5/16in). (Executed circa 1883)

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Lot 1
AUGUSTE RODIN
(1840-1917)
Satan et un adorateur (Serpent)

Sold for £ 168,812 (US$ 216,022) inc. premium
PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
Satan et un adorateur (Serpent)
inscribed 'serpent' (lower right), signed and inscribed 'a mon ami Will Rotheintein [sic] A. Rodin' and further inscribed 'Baudelaire' (on the artist's mount); inscribed 'A mon' (verso)
gouache, brush, wash, India ink and pencil on ruled paper laid within the artist's mount
drawing: 12 x 15.2cm (4 3/4 x 6in).; artist's mount: 15.5 x 18.5cm (6 1/8 x 7 5/16in).
Executed circa 1883

Footnotes

  • The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Madame Christina Buley-Uribe. This work will be included in the forthcoming Auguste Rodin catalogue raisonné des dessins et peintures, currently being prepared.

    Provenance
    Sir William Rothenstein Collection, UK (a gift from the artist in 1897).
    Mr. & Mrs. Alan Ward, Bakewell, UK (acquired in June 1946).
    Private collection, London.

    Exhibited
    (Possibly) London, The Leicester Galleries, The Art Collection of the late Sir William Rothenstein. Indian Paintings and Drawings and Paintings by Modern Artists, 15 June - 11 July 1946, no. 62 (titled 'Mother and Child').
    London, Hayward Gallery, Rodin, Sculpture & Drawings, 1 November 1986 - 25 January 1987, no. 103.
    London, Royal Academy of Arts, Rodin, 23 September 2006 - 1 September 2007, no. 58.

    Literature
    W. Rothenstein, Men and Memories, Recollections of William Rothenstein 1872 - 1900, London, 1931, no. 44 (illustrated).
    V. Thorson, Rodin Graphics: A Catalogue Raisonné of Drypoints and Book Illustrations, San Francisco, 1975, no. 82a (illustrated p. 85).


    This drawing, dedicated to the late Sir William Rothenstein and modelled with delicate chiaroscuro, is executed on paper commonly used by Rodin at the beginning of 1880s. Pictured within is a frail young man crawling in front of a muscular, much more powerful character, who sits with his legs apart and feet placed on the young man's back, in a gesture of dominance. The heightening of his right hand with pen and ink, sharpening the fingers, lends further discomfort as it suggests the presence of a wholly evil character: Satan.

    After completing the present work, Rodin later returned to the composition again in 1887-1888 as he worked on L'Imprévu, the frontispiece illustration for Paul Gallimard's edition of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal. In this later line drawing the face of Satan is more clearly legible as Rodin added a small goatee, pointed horns or ears, sharpened fingernails and clawed feet. The worshipper, still sprawled with his feet in the air and crawling like a snake, has been given a much more distinguishable mouth. Adjoining the illustration is the annotated verse: 'And you have secretly kissed my unclean haunches! / Recognise Satan by his conquering laughter / Immense and ugly as the world!'

    The English artist and writer Sir William Rothenstein chose Satan et un adorateur (Serpent) from his collection to illustrate the chapter dedicated to Rodin in his memoirs, published in 1931. His complete collection of drawings was listed in the catalogue to the Leicester Galleries exhibition, The Art Collection of the Late Sir William Rothenstein, 15 June – 11 July 1946. In this catalogue, no titles appear to correspond to the present work, however, it is likely that it is in fact the drawing numbered 62, titled Mère et enfant, as currently no other work has been found in the collection that suitably corresponds to no. 62 of The Leicester Galleries catalogue.

    Text by Christina Buley-Uribe.
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