H. de Roos - What is an original Rodin?


As a next step,, Chatelain explains the "original edition" as a legal contract, agreed upon by buyer and seller and to some extent regulated by fiscal and other law, to guarantee the value of the purchased item. Because of the special situation in bronze casting, where the manufacturing of a single large-sized monument can take more than two years, the reader finally tends to agree with Chatelain that it is only logical that the production of an "original edition" of The Burghers of Calais may only take place over a period of time as long as a century and only be completed long after the artistīs death: "The examples are made from the same model but are eventually completed by different craftsmen." [p. 279]

This highly interesting argumentation by a top representative of the French Museum structure reveals quite frankly what the "original edition" in the compound arts really is about: it is not about the creative input of the artist regarding the execution of individual pieces; instead, it is about increasing the sales revenues for the seller and guaranteeing purchase value for the buyer. Chatelainīs "original edition" does not respect the artist as the author of the whole process: his role is restricted to providing the mould or matrix. 

For two reasons I think this definition, that contradicts Chatelainīs first conclusion that "any reproduction of an artistīs work made by someone else, no matter what the process may be, is without real artistic value", is problematic when applied to Rodin. 

First, Rodin, as already described, in a number of documented cases supervised his artisans personally,  had them report to him in detail, personally intervened and corrected during the execution process, and finally authorized the work, implicitly or explicitly. After his death, he was not able to do so any more. Who or what is to substitute his artistic judgement, if we agree his creative faculty is unique, and that it is this very faculty that makes the difference between an "art work" and a mere "object"? Chatelains definition of an "original edition" ignores the artistic decisions implied in executing  the casts and authorizing their final quality.

Second, as Chatelain explains himself, the concept of a limited, numbered edition that is to guarantee the market value of the art work sold, is historically new. Monique Laurent informs us it was not universally accepted during Rodinīs lifetime yet:

Most of (Rodinīs) bronzes are stamped with artistīs signature (copied from a example supplied by him and also with the stamp of the foundry). Some, although perfectly authentic, are unsigned. But there is no question of any of them being numbered or dated; these are modern methods, linked with notion of rarity and speculation in art.

[From: Monique Laurent, RODIN, 1988, p. 22, quoted by Gary Arseneau in his Toronto presentation]




Advanced Search and Search Rules

Advanced Search & Search Rules

Terms of Use  Copyright Policy    Menu missing?  Back one page  Reload this page   Top of this page 

Notice: Museum logos appear only as buttons linking to Museum Websites and do not imply any
formal approval of RODIN-WEB pages by these institutions. For details see Copyright Policy.
Đ Copyright 1992 - September 2003 for data collection & design by Hans de Roos - All Rights Reserved.
Last update of this page: 17.09.2003