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

A discussion with Gary Arseneau and Dr David Schaff (13)

Signatures, Stamps And Cachets

With this correspondence, at last the necessary depth of argumentation is reached to draw first conclusions on the art-historical significance of this donated plaster collection.

Although the Canadians seem to possess no provenance docoments that would precisely indicate the production date of all single plasters, their argumentation seems to be logical. The fact the importance of plasters has been underestimated for a long time on the one hand is responsible for the apparent lack of documentation on these items. But on the other hand - as Schaff points out - this lack of appreciation makes it probable indeed that foundry plasters and duplicates were only manufactured in direct connection with planned bronze castings. The dates of the bronze editions commissioned to the Rudier Foundry being well documented, they indeed give us a clue about the chronology of the corresponding foundry plasters.

As far as signatures are concerned, Dr Schaff confirms the stylus incisions I have seen in Toronto and Barrie on the base of an medium-sized Eve plaster ands on the backside of the small Balzac Head. Other signatures are the result of stamps. But other than Antoinette Romain, who claims such stamps were only used on plasters from the 1950īs on, Schaff maintains they were already employed during Rodinīs lifetime.

In Patricia Sanders "Notes on Rodinīs Technique", we find the following remarks:

The cachet, a "signature" stamp usually pressed into the core of the mold so that the marking "A. Rodin" appears in relief on the inside of the bronze cast, cannot, as is sometimes claimed, be taken as evidence of a posthumous cast. Exactly when this marking was first used we cannot say, but it occurs frequently on casts made during Rodinīs lifetime, such as The Prodigal Son (cat. no. 24) in (the Spreckels) collection, and continues to be applied to Musée Rodin casts. Signatures are of little help in sorting out posthumous from lifetime casts since it was common practice in Rodinīs time and still is today for the founder to add the signature.

[De Caso, p. 32]

Although it is not clear if this description only refers to cachets "pressed into the core of to the mould" here or if Sandersīs remarks are valid  for stamps added to positive foundry plasters as well, her general conclusion that "Signatures are of little help in sorting out posthumous from lifetime casts since it was common practice in Rodinīs time and still is today for the founder to add the signature" seems to support Schaffīs opinion.




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