Auguste Rodin

Brother and Sister


Not on display

Auguste Rodin 1840–1917
Original title
Frère et soeur
Painted plaster
Object: 392 × 203 × 193 mm
Presented by L.M. Angus Butterworth in memory of his father Walter Butterworth through the Art Fund 1960

Display caption

The first purchaser of this work was Walter Butterworth, who in 1911 negotiated the purchase of three bronzes by Rodin for the Manchester City Art Gallery. On his visit to Rodin's house at Meudon outside Paris, Butterworth had been struck by this painted plaster and later asked if he might purchase an example for himself. In his reply, dated 26 December 1911, Rodin described the work as 'a plaster which is in a slightly poor state, but which is beautiful nevertheless'. A week later Rodin wrote again saying that he would like to give Butterworth the plaster as a souvenir of his visit to Paris and of his friendship. At least twenty-two bronzes and two marble versions of this sculpture are known to exist.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

T00346 Frère et Soeur (Brother and Sister) 1890

Inscribed 'A. Rodin' on back of base
Painted plaster, 15 3/8 x 8 1/8 x 7 7/8 (39 x 20.5 x 20)
Presented by L.M. Angus-Butterworth in memory of his father, Walter Butterworth, through the NACF 1960
Prov: Walter Butterworth, Bowdon, Cheshire (gift from the artist 1912); L.M. Angus-Butterworth, Ashton-upon-Mersey, Cheshire
Lit: Leon Maillard, Auguste Rodin: Statuaire (Paris 1899), p.155 (dated 1890), bronze repr. facing p.146; Frederick Lawton, The Life and Work of Auguste Rodin (London 1906), p.229, marble repr. facing p.227; Walter Butterworth, 'A Visit to Rodin' in Manchester Quarterly, July 1912, p.7; Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin (Paris 1944), No.254, bronze repr.; Ionel Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin (Paris 1969), p.104 (dated 1891); John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin: The Collection of the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia (Philadelphia 1976), pp.220, 222, 224, marble and bronze versions repr. p.223
Repr: Studio, CLXIII, 1962, p.7

The original owner of this plaster, Walter Butterworth, was in 1911-12 the Chairman of the Committee of the City Art Gallery, Manchester, and in 1911 successfully negotiated the purchase of three bronzes by Rodin, 'The Age of Bronze', 'Eve' and the bust of Victor Hugo, for the Manchester City Art Gallery. He visited Rodin at the Hôtel de Biron in Paris on or about 23 October 1911 for this purpose, and later the same day drove with him to his house at Meudon. (He subsequently wrote an article about his visit which was published in the Manchester Quarterly in July 1912).

Writing to Rodin on 23 December 1911 to announce the arrival of the Victor Hugo bust and to send a cheque for £120, Butterworth added that he would be glad to know whether it would be possible for him to buy, for himself, a cast of the 'Sister and Brother'. Rodin asked in his reply of 26 December 1911 whether the cast of 'Brother and Sister' (sic) which he had in mind was the plaster he had seen on his visit, 'a plaster which is in a slightly poor state, but which is beautiful nevertheless'. Then on 3 January 1912, thanking Butterworth for his New Year wishes, he said that he would like to give him the plaster as a souvenir of his visit to Paris and of his friendship. (The original correspondence between them is now in the Princeton University Library).

John L. Tancock has listed no less than twenty-two bronzes of this work, including casts in the following public collections:

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum (The Burrell Collection)
Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin (on loan from the National Gallery of Ireland)
Musée Rodin, Paris
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon
National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
South African National Gallery, Cape Town
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Art Institute of Chicago
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Portland Art Museum

There are also at least two versions in marble: one in the Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt. (signed and dated 1906) and the other in an English private collection. A further plaster is in the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

The same title has sometimes been applied to another small sculpture of 1885, which exists both in the round and in high relief, and which is better known as 'The Young Mother' or (in the case of the relief version) as 'The Young Mother at the Grotto'.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.640-1, reproduced p.640

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