Rodin Works: Crouching Woman

The Crouching Woman, bronze In the early 1880's Rodin began to reproduce a spontaneous pose of his favourite model Adèle Abruzzezzi. Ignoring the  academic habits of his time, he created a distorted female shape, revealing the woman's bare sex. According to Ruth Butler, the frankness of this pose demonstrates the unusually close report between the sculptor and his model. The hand touching the breast indicates the erotic character of the work; the hand crasping the feet allegedly refers to the french expression "prendre son pied" used among prostitutes for securing oneself a part of the pleasure bought by the suitor. A similar gesture can be found in 'Despair'.

Je suis belle. Photo source: LampertThis expressive but compact composition is included in 'The Gates of Hell' as a minor figure at the top of the right pilaster. It was also integrated in the group 'I Am Beautiful' - an assemblage combining the 'Falling Man' with the 'Crouching Woman'. The title of the group was derived from a poem by Charles Baudelaire, 'Je suis belle' in 'Les Fleurs du Mal'.

Crouching Woman with Stone, Photo: Bulloz, Source: LampertAs an independant work,  the 'Crouching Woman' became a major success; Octave Mirbeau, collector and supporter of Rodin, lovelingly called this sculpture "my frog"; later it was celebrated as "one of the artist's most audacious achievements in sculpture form". In his essay for the catalogue of the Monet-Rodin exhibition of 1889, Gustave Geoffroy praised the sculpture's "back, where is marked the rebellion and fatigues of the flesh".

Eventually, the subject was realised in various media and sizes: the bronze version is probably an enlargement of the terra-cotta version. Slightly different versions exist: one stone-base is higher than the other. The head is also executed seperately, known as 'Head of Lust'.

The photo above shows a 'Crouching Woman' in combination with the burden of the 'The Caryatid' - another example of Rodin's tendency to combine elements from various sculptures in a new composition.



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