Auguste Rodin

Woman on a Column


Not on display

Auguste Rodin 1840–1917
Original title
Femme sur une colonne
Copper electrotype
Object: 908 × 203 × 152 mm, 3.3 kg
Bequeathed by Mrs Rhoda Symons 1952

Display caption

This female figure is adapted from one entitled The Sphinx, from Rodin’s monumental bronze doors known as The Gates of Hell. Rodin kept a number of fragments of works standing around his studio on the top of classical columns, and such an arrangement may have inspired this work. Despite its rather delicate proportions, the impression here is of a full-size figure taken to an architectural scale. Such subversion of perception anticipates the impact of Alberto Giacometti’s manipulation of scale and space.

Gallery label, April 2009

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Catalogue entry

Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

N06070 Femme sur une Colonne (Woman on a Column) c.1900-3

Inscribed 'Hommage à Madame et Monsieur Arthur Symons. A. Rodin' around top of column
Bronze, 35 ¾ x 8 x 6 (91 x 20.3 x 15.2)
Bequeathed by Mrs Rhoda Symons 1952
Prov: Mr and Mrs Arthur Symons, Wittersham (bequest first considered 1937)
Exh: Rodin, Arts Council touring exhibition, November 1966-December 1967 (27); on loan to the Bethnal Green Museum, London, since 1970
Lit: Henri Léchat, Sculptures de Rodin (Lyons 1919), pp.6, 30 as 'Femme sur une Colonne'; Jennifer Hawkins, Victoria and Albert Museum: Rodin Sculptures (London 1975), No.9, p.22, repr. pls.14 and 15
Repr: Camille Mauclair, Auguste Rodin (London 1905), facing p.86 (plaster); Frederick Lawton, The Life and Work of Auguste Rodin (London 1906), facing p.296 (plaster)

Reproduced by Camille Mauclair in 1905 as 'Iris' and by Frederick Lawton in 1906 as 'Siren on a Pillar'. The figure is adapted from 'The Sphinx' (Musée Rodin, No.157), a small figure taken from 'The Gates of Hell'. Rodin kept a number of his works or fragments of works standing around his studio on the top of classical columns, and the idea of making this work probably came to him in this way. Just when it was executed is however uncertain. 'The Sphinx' was made in or before 1886; this variant was in existence by 1903, as Rodin presented a plaster of it in November that year to the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Lyons, where it is known as 'Woman on a Column'.

Arthur Symons, the English critic and man of letters, first met Rodin in Paris in May 1892 and saw him for the last time in 1907. In 1900 he contributed an article to a special number of La Plume devoted to Rodin's work (the only other British contribution was by Frank Harris). But he was then no more than a vague acquaintance and about 1902 he applied to Sir William Rothenstein for a letter of introduction to the sculptor. (On his relationship with Rodin see A. Symons, From Toulouse-Lautrec to Rodin, London 1929, p.219, and W. Rothenstein, Men and Memories, London 1932, Vol.2, pp.46-7). The fact that this cast is dedicated to Symons and his wife also points to a latish dating as they were married in 1901.

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.645-6, reproduced p.645


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