H. de Roos - Towards a catalog of the Maclaren collection

A discussion with Gary Arseneau and Dr David Schaff (5)

A Letter To Gary Arseneau: Did the Musée Rodin Make The Maclaren Plasters?

At the Toronto Symposium Gary Arseneau claimed the MacLaren plasters would originate from the Musée Rodin, producing fresh foundry plasters from the bon creux moulds so not to risk the historical plasters. And Antoinette Romain was quoted by the Guardian saying these plasters may have been produced only in the 1950´s, the signatures on the plasters indicating these items were made only after Rodin´s death.

In my correspondence with Gary Arseneau, I have tried to grasp the far-reaching implications of his statement:

One point I did not understand in your presentation: Why do you think the foundry plasters donated to the MacLaren are posthumous plaster copies produced by the Musée Rodin and sent to the (Alexis? Georges?) Rudier foundry? From my correspondence with the MacLaren, I understood they were at least lifetime foundry plasters, sent to the Alexis Rudier foundry by Rodin himself, or - in the majority - duplicates of these original foundry plasters, produced in the Alexis Rudier foundry during Rodin´s lifetime and with his knowledge. As you know, Georges Rudier herited the Alexis Rudier Foundry (run, as you pointed out, by Alexis´s widow and son Eugène) in 1952. Since the Alexis Rudier foundry cooperated with Rodin since appr. 1902, it is very probable it possessed a large reserve of original foundry plasters and life-time duplicates. What makes you so sure the Musée Rodin produced the Maclaren plasters itself? The "A. Rodin" signatures? 

The fact Rodin did not use (his signature) on all of his plasters and bronzes, does not exclude he used it sometimes. For example, an Eve medium-size plaster (76 cm) is signed "A. Rodin" and has a written dedication "A mon ami D." But it is remarkable all six MacLaren plasters I received status reports on do have this "A. Rodin" signature. Do you have more detailed information on this question?

If you really would be right that the MacLaren foundry plasters in fact are posthumous plasters produced by the Musée Rodin, I would have to rethink my opinion on the MacLaren collection completely. But I cannot imagine the Maclaren curatorial staff would ever be prepared to cover such practice. Would it not be too ironical that artefacts the one Museum posthumously produced only for technical casting purposes some decades later would turn up in another Museum as "authentic" Rodin plasters? No surprise then they correspond to the bon creux moulds in all details - they would have been freshly pulled from the Meudon Reserve bon creux moulds! 

The Maclaren staff did not indicate precise years of production for the single foundry plasters, but generally assured most were "early", which can only mean "lifetime" to me. If you have shock-proof evidence this is not true, the Canadians are in deep trouble. 

And if the plasters indeed come from the Musée Rodin and were not produced as duplicates by the Alexis and/or Georges Rudier foundry themselves, the Musée Rodin will have to explain how come its pieces ever got traded on the open market. But that is another reason why I think it improbable your thesis is right. The Musée Rodin could have claimed its own plaster pieces back anytime. But: If the MacLaren plasters would be foundry duplicates, produced - during Rodin´s lifetime or posthumously - by the foundry company itself, from plasters sent in by Rodin himself or later by the Musée Rodin, the Musée Rodin would NOT be able to claim them back, since such items never belonged to Rodin or the Rodin Museum in the first place. 

There is a story spread by the Gruppo Mondiale that the Musée Rodin indeed has tried to claim the discussed plasters from the Rudier foundry, but was not successful because they could not proof these plasters ever belonged to Rodin or the Musée Rodin. Do you know anything of this story? 
(But) given the fact the Musée Rodin could never claim these plasters from the Rudier foundry ( if that story is true), I guess the donated foundry plasters are duplicates produced by the foundry itself - as also confirmed by Dr David Schaff and explained on the exhibition panels.

I asked William Moore and Mary Reid for a comment on your statement, but I received no answer yet. I will keep you posted.

[From: Two letters to Gary Arseneau, 23 Nov. 2001]




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