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

A discussion with Gary Arseneau and Dr David Schaff (17)

The Maclaren Plasters: An Object For Additional Studies

As a result of the five classifications proposed, the MacLaren plaster collection would contain a core of studio plasters, two of them with Rodinīs dedication incised by hand, and a set of lifetime, first-generation foundry plasters of high quality. Outside this core, we would find lifetime second-generation foundry plasters, foundry plasters and duplicates produced shortly after Rodinīs death, and plasters with poorer surface condition. Finally, there would be some foundry plasters from the 1950īs till 1980īs, produced for posthumous casting activities, among them a non-authentic composition like Rodinīs Hand, and a very modern plaster copy of a marble, The Hand of God.

In his "Notes on Authentication" of 18 June 2001, Schaff concluded:

Because of their wide range of date, scale, and subject matter, these plasters are ideal for the study of Auguste Rodin's artistic and stylistic development. The exhibition will make possible the type of examination in three dimensions that Albert Elsen posited in his numerous studies.

By now it is evident, that these plasters not only document Rodinīs own development, but also the reception of his work after his death, including the long-lasting lack of attention for plaster works. Only in the 1980īs, Elsenīs essay "When The Sculptures Where White" reminded curators, scholars and collectors of the role of plasters in Salon exhibitions and  in Rodinīs own creative process. The fact the donated collection is not homogeneous and determination "often (is) frustrating, general, incomplete, and vague" (Schaff) not only requires profound thought on issues of provenance, dating and authenticity, but also allows us to examine positions and conflicts in the institutional field as if looking through a magnifying glass.

As we have seen, all parties tend to put forward simplifications that function to support their own position. Through my correspondence with the MacLaren staff, a more differentiated description of the plaster collection has developed now. As a next stept, a more detailed line of argumentation should be worked out for each individual plaster, the use of signature stamps during Rodinīs lifetime should be researched more in depth, and when funds are available, scientific laboratory tests may supply additional information on the age of single objects.

The MacLaren also has announced a second expert will look into the matter:

As to the many answers to your questions, we have a renowned scholar reviewing the research and viewing the works. We will have a qualified opinion and direction early in 2002.
There is little I can say until that is complete - but you will be the first to know.

[From: Letter from William Moore to the author, 28. Nov. 2001]

As soon as further details become available, you will learn it on this Website.




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