London’s contribution to the centenary events marking the death of Auguste Rodin will begin with an exhibition and sale of rare sculptures and drawings at St James’s gallery Bowman Sculpture on June 7-July 27.
The 30-plus works on show at Rodin: The Birth of Modern Sculpture come from every period of the artist’s long and prolific career. Earlier pieces include Right Hand 27 (£68,000) and Mask of a Man with a Broken Nose (£180,000), while later works demonstrate Rodin’s move towards abstraction. Pas de Deux – Movement de Danse Type G (£75,000), for example, depicts two dancers in such contorted poses that their fluid, richly patinated bodies seem almost to lose human form.
Maquette for the Burghers of Calais (£280,000), meanwhile, conceived in 1884 as a monument to six Calais citizens who sacrificed themselves to invading English forces during the Hundred Years’ War, offers a fascinating insight into Rodin’s approach to commemorative sculpture. A version of Maquette stands near London’s Houses of Parliament, and this cast was made in 1975.
Collectors are most likely to be lured by scarcer works such as Fugit Amor (£750,000), but no celebration of Rodin would be complete without familiar favourites, and The Thinker (not for sale) and of course The Kiss (£1.2m) will both be present.
All the pieces in the show are originals, cast either during his lifetime or posthumously by the Rodin Museum, following his direct instruction. For the gallery’s director Robert Bowman, the exhibition marks the culmination of an almost 35-year investigation into Rodin’s art. “These pioneering works really changed the world of sculpture,” he says. “They demonstrate his fascination with the human form, its beauty, and also its flaws.”