Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
L'Eternel printemps, premier état, taille originale–variante type A
signed 'A. Rodin' (on the right side of the rock); inscribed with foundry mark 'Alexis Rudier. Fondeur. Paris.' (on the back of the rock); with raised signature 'A. Rodin' (on the underside)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 25 in. (63.4 cm.)
Conceived circa 1884; this bronze version cast in 1946
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
Musée Rodin, Paris.
Eugène Rudier, Le Vésinet (probably acquired from the above, 1947).
Dr. René Moatti, Paris; Estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 2 December 1998, lot 43.
Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 12 May 1999, lot 24.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
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G. Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, pp. 42-43, no. 113 (another cast illustrated).
R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, Lausanne, 1967, pp. 132-135 (another cast illustrated in color, p. 134).
I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1970, p. 61 (another cast illustrated).
A.E. Elsen, ed., Rodin Rediscovered, Washington D.C., 1981, p. 68 (large clay version illustrated, pl. 3.13).
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1989, pp. 241-247 (another cast illustrated, figs. 32a, 32b and 32-4).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art: The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, New York, 2003, pp. 494-497, no. 148 (another cast illustrated, pp. 494-495).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. I, pp. 331-337 (another cast illustrated, pp. 331-336; marble version illustrated, p. 332).
This work will be included in the forthcoming Auguste Rodin catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 1998-756B.
L'Eternel printemps, one of Rodin's most popular compositions, depicts two young lovers swept up in the ecstasy of a kiss. The figures are arranged in a dynamic, sinuous embrace, epitomizing Rodin’s innovative approach towards representing the body during this period. The female figure’s gracefully arched back is counterbalanced by the male figure’s balletic gesture. It is unsurprising that collectors have always been attracted to the work’s sensual lyricism.
As with many of his great sculptures, Rodin derived the figurative elements of L’Eternel printemps from earlier works. The female figure, for example, is based on Torse d'Adèle, which appears on the top left corner of the tympanum of La porte de l'enfer. Rodin first named the sculpture Zéphyr et la terre, and subsequently submitted the composition to the Paris Salon of 1897 as Cupidon et Psyché. By 1900, however, Rodin eliminated any reference to mythology and exhibited the composition under the more secular title, L'Eternel printemps.
The present subject may have been informed by the artist’s personal life. Rodin sculpted the amorous couple while engaged in an affair with the sculptor Camille Claudel, who had entered his studio as a student the previous year. This new romance may have inspired Rodin to abandon convention and depict love in deeply passionate and intimate terms. Rodin later claimed, however, that the idea for the present bronze came to him while listening to Beethoven's sublime Second Symphony; he wrote to Jeanne Russell, the daughter of the Australian painter John Russell: "God, how [Beethoven] must have suffered to write that! And yet, it was while listening to it for the first time that I pictured Eternal Springtime, just as I have modeled it since" (quoted in The Bronzes of Rodin, exh. cat., Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, p. 336).