Auguste Rodin

Paris, France, 1840 - 1917 Meudon, near Paris


'Eve', Auguste Rodin

'Eve', Auguste Rodin

At the turn of the 19th Century Rodin was the most celebrated sculptor in Europe. His works, such as 'The Kiss' and 'The Thinker', revolutionized modern sculpture and became universal symbols of love and thought. Both of those sculptures derived from the small figures he originally modelled to decorate his first major state commission in 1880, the huge bronze entrance doors to a future Museum of Decorative Arts. The doors, known as the 'Gates of Hell', teemed with groups of figures representing scenes from Dante's 14th-century poem 'Inferno'. Though the 'Gates' were never completed, throughout his life Rodin derived many ideas from them for larger figures sculpted in marble or cast in bronze, including the Walker's 'Eve'. Like other Rodin sculptures 'Eve' shows his admiration for the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo (1475-1564), with whom Rodin was often compared.

Rodin failed three times to enter art school. So he learned his sculpting skills on the job as an ornamental plasterer and by creating small-scale decorative figurines for the Sèvres porcelain factory. Throughout his life he preferred modelling his first ideas for a sculpture in clay or plaster. Only later would he transfer these ideas to a larger scale and have it carved from a block of marble, such as the 'Death of Athens', or cast in a metal foundry out of bronze, a mixture of tin and copper.

Rodin's sculptures are noted for their intense and sensitive modelling, coupled with the originality of the expressive poses of such figures as 'Danaid'. He gained international recognition in Europe and the USA after the 1900 International Exhibition in Paris. By then James Smith had already begun to collect the six sculptures by Rodin, which he bequeathed to the Walker in the 1920s.