H. de Roos - What is an original Rodin?


Before his death in 1917, Rodin transferred his work, his collections and his right of reproduction to the French State. This estate is being managed by the Musée Rodin in Paris and Meudon. As long as Rodin´s work was protected by international copyright and only the Musée Rodin had the right to issue Rodin sculptures, these casting was regulated by French law only. In the footnotes to Jean Chatelain´s contribution, we find the following legal-fiscal definition:

Works of art and original editions are, as far as statuary is concerned, defined in the following manner: "Productions in any material of statuary art or of sculpture and assemblages, seeing that these productions and assemblages are executed entirely by the artist´s hand; castings of sculpture in a series limited to eight copies and supervised by the artist or his beneficiaries…" General Code of Taxes, Appendix iii, Article 17.)

[Jean Chatelain, An Original In Sculpture, in Elsen, p. 281, Note 9].

It should be noted that this definition is only binding for fiscal matters and that issuers have the liberty to define their original editions otherwise. For fiscal matters, however, the authorities will only recognize the fiscal-legal definition quoted. 

It also should be noted Article 17 accepts all "productions and assemblages (that) are executed entirely by the artist´s hand" as works of art, without limiting their number. 
This means Article 17 distinguishes very well between such works and casts the beneficiaries or heirs may issue after the artist has died. Chatelain´s formulation, on the contrary, puts "works of art" and "original editions" into one category, hereby upgrading the status of the original edition.

The limitation imposed on the beneficiaries is echoed by the joint decree by the Ministries of Culture and Finance issued on 5 September 1978, regulating the internal administration of the Musée Rodin, in Article 1:

The reproduction of the works of Rodin and the editions sold by the Musée Rodin consist of:

1) Original editions in bronze. These are executed from models in terra cotta or plaster realized by Rodin and under the direct control of the Museum, acting as the holder of the artist´s right of authorship; the casting from each of these models cannot in any case exceed twelve examples.

[Jean Chatelain, An Original In Sculpture, in Elsen, p. 281, Note 9].




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