Auguste Rodin, Female Nude

c. 1900-17

British Museum

British Museum

A key method for Rodin was to draw from a model who moved around the studio, usually only a few feet in front of him. Not taking his eyes from them, nor looking at the page, he would draw – in the words of his contemporary critic, Roger Marx, ‘tracing them lightly, with only his brain to guide it’ [Cartons d’Artistes, ‘L’Image’ no. 10, (September, 1897), cited and trans. Catherine Lampert, ‘Rodin: Sculpture & Drawings’, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1986) p. 160]. This is one of over ten thousand drawings made by Rodin, who towards the end of his life reputedly produced scores per day. They were seldom direct studies for a monument or sculpture, but rather parallel investigations into the nature of the human body. Contrary to the traditional use of wash for three-dimensional modelling, Rodin instead used colour to differentiate the figure from the ground of the paper, and indeed often cut around the figures to combine them in new ways. As Rodin himself claimed: ‘It’s very simple. My drawings are the key to my work.’ [‘C’est bien simple, mes dessins sont la clef de mon oeuvre’, René Benjamin, ‘Les Dessins d’Auguste Rodin’, Salle des Fêtes du Gil Blas: Programme Quotidien, exh. cat. (Paris: Gil Blas, 1910), p. 16, cited and trans. Musée Rodin, http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/collections/dessins, accessed 21 May 2016]

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