H. de Roos - What is an original Rodin?


In the opinion of most scholars and curators, it is legitimate to produce posthumous casts, when they respect the original artistic intention of the artist, when they meet the highest quality standards and when full disclosure is given on the origin of the plasters used and on the year and method of casting. 

If we look at the Barbedienne example again, Rodin apparently did not hesitate to have his work widely spread and make it accessible to a very broad public. In a book on Rodin sculptures in the Spreckels collection, Patricia Sanders also quotes Cécile Goldscheider, former Director of the Musée Rodin. In an interview in 1968 with Le Figaro, Goldscheider said Rodin would have wanted to restrict the number of posthumous casts derived from one bon creux mould to twelve, because the moulds wear off and the number of good impressions made from them is limited [De Caso, p. 31]. Even when this applies, Rodin´s concern seemed to be more about the required quality than about the number as such. In the donation treaties, no restrictions were agreed upon:

Later, the Musée Rodin, managing the oeuvre in the name of the state, imposed a limit of twelve to the number of casts made, but the artist himself never made the least indication of requirement or condition on this subject in the three successive acts of donation drawn up on 1 April, 13 September and 25 October 1916 to make official the transfer of his goods to the state.

[Monique Laurent, Observations on Rodin and his Founders, in Elsen, p. 285]

Instead of speculating about the maximum number of examples  Rodin might have wished - without ever documenting this -, the following observations by Jacques de Caso and Monique Laurent seem to explain Rodin´s attitude much better:

But, as Jacques de Caso has remarked, Rodin represents the most complete and most complex range of the different attitudes of an artist as regards the reproduction of his works, for he obtained at the same time contracts for editions with no numerical limitations, castings made to order with occasional promises of exclusivity, and castings limited to a few examples. (..)

Rodin´s conduct illustrates his concern for responding to the varied need of a diverse clientele; 
in consequence, the artist was led to make demands on the foundries of equally diversified nature and importance. 

[Monique Laurent, Observations on Rodin and his Founders, in Elsen, p. 285]

In those cases Rodin definitively wanted to prevent unauthorized overcasting by the foundries, he would destroy the only plaster model or sell it to the collector with all rights of reproduction - like he did to Antony Roux in the 1880’s [De Caso, p. 30]. This implies, Rodin was very well aware of the meaning of exclusiveness or rarity.

We may conclude that Rodin, as a clever businessman, addressed different market segments with different offers of quality and exclusivity.




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