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

A discussion with Gary Arseneau and Dr David Schaff (11)

Casting History and Signatures As Indications Of Age (2)

I passed Arseneau´s comment on to David Schaff. Over the Christmas holidays, a vivid exchange of thought developed between Budapest and Philadelphia. Dr Schaff reacted by return email:

Some of the MacLaren plasters - the Head of Balzac and the Eve with square base - have dedications and signatures inscribed in the plaster with a stylus by Rodin. 

In other cases the signature is exactly as Monique Laurent says it is: the product of a stamp provided with the authority to use it by Rodin to his fondeurs, in these cases (with some anomalies) the Alexis Rudier foundry. That is what "signed" means now; moreover, this authenticity of signature is the standard for Rodin throughout his dealings with foundries. 

There are exceptions, special casts, unique casts, but they are exceptions, not the rule. The rule is: Rodin empowered the fondeurs to apply his signature in incised or raised form. These are the signatures which appear in almost all the documented, lifetime bronzes.

The practice of the Musée Rodin from 1950 to the present does not affect the majority of these works. Whether the plasters were signed at the Musée (an unusual practice - why did the MR feel compelled to take back this authority from the fondeurs?) or at the foundry is a technical matter. The crucial matter is: do the plasters generate from the modèles bon crus? For the MacLaren plasters, the answer is yes. Moreover the ROM exhibition - like none other so far - tries to demonstrate where these plasters are in the line of generation. 

Of course MR sends duplicate plasters, not the completed model, to the foundry - to do so is in keeping with Rodin's practice and the 19th century tradition in general. The texts at the ROM emphasised the production of various copies for various purposes - exhibition, presentation, casting. (...) In the sense of generation - your comments that a plaster pulled tomorrow from 
an authentic modèle would still be an authentic work is essentially correct. What has changed (and vitally so) are the circumstances, including the value. A Giambologna horse cast by Susini during GB's lifetime and/or under his instruction has values different from a cast made for Wm Hamilton a century and a half later. Nicht wahr?

I know you still have questions unanswered, but this is what I may do today.

[From: Letter from Dr David Schaff to the author, 27 Dec. 2001]




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