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

A discussion with Gary Arseneau and Dr David Schaff (15)

Towards A Catalogue: Criteria For A Classification Of The Plasters

Should David Schaff be able to defend his position sucessfully, the critique put forward by Antoinette Romain and Gary Arseneau would lose its edge and the plasters would fan out into different classses:

(1) The first criterion would be age. For one category, Arseneauīs assumption would indeed prove true: Rodinīs Hand Holding A Feminine Torso may actually have its origin in a posthumous edition issued by the Musée Rodin. This might also apply to Eve with the round base, cast in the 1950īs. The small Dance Studies (except for Study A) may also originate from the 1950īs. The Hand of God plaster, derived from the 1902 Vienna marble, would even be made in the 1970īs or 1980īs - all according to Schaff.

Other plasters would be much older, mostly produced during Rodinīs lifetime (The Age of Bronze, large and small, The Bust of the Age of Bronze, Eve large and medium with square base, the Balzac Head, Dance Study A, and others, according to Schaff), partly manufacturted shortly after Rodinīs death (medium-size Age of Bronze).

(2) Another distinction would be between original, authentic and non-authentic plasters. Although at the Toronto Symposium, Schaff and Arseneau seemed to have diametrically opposed positions, from my correspondence I can only conclude that all three of us basically support the same definition:

There still is a subtle but important distinction between "original" (which presupposes the item was at least produced during Rodin's life) and "authentic" (derived from the bon creux mould), but that cannot harm the validity of the MacLaren collection and the ROM exhibition.

[From: Letter to David Schaff, 30 Dec. 2001]

I have also taken on the question of how the terms authentic, authorized, and original apply to Rodin. For me - and I realize this may be an idiosyncratic position - an original work is one he made with his own hands. I do not consider reductions, enlargements and replications original in this sense, but they are authentic and authorized, usually. There are exceptions: the Montagutelli pieces are authentic but Rodfin did not authorize them.

[From: Letter from David Schaff to the author, 2 Jan. 2002]

Your position on what is an "original" corresponds pretty much to my own opinion - and to that of Arseneau. Maybe I would extend it to bronze casts that were produced under (Rodinīs) personal supervision, or were expressly authorized by him with regard to the execution of the single example; this would make a gradual difference, according to the degree of personal intervention by the artist. But basically we agree that posthumous casts never can be called "original" and that originality is connected to the creative performance of the living artist.

[From: Letter to David Schaff, 3 Jan. 2002]

According to these definitions, authentic works would be all those examples derived from the bon creux moulds - directly or indirectly - instead of from a surmoulage on bronze or another kind of imitation.




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