AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
Génie du Repos Éternel, 1996
193 x 100 x 91 cm (76 x 39 x 36 in)
Markings: Bronze Signature, number and Inscriptions: A Rodin, 8/8 © by Musee Rodin 1996/Fondeur Coubertin, Paris No. Inv com 4253
Presented without arms at the exhibition of the Alma pavilion in 1900, this mortuary génie enlarged for the occasion is mentioned for the first time on 15th March 1899, amongst the exhibited works in Brussels. Rodin used it for the Monument à Pulvis de Chavannes, which was ordered a few days later. He adds on different elements: a kind of a small altar, made of a Corinthian capital on a plaster table, that supports the bust of Puvis de Chavannes. On the side, there is the Génie du repos éternel, which appears to be picking apples on a branch full of fruits, displayed obliquely to create a link between the genie and the bust. Very reluctant to abide to the allegory, Rodin made sure not to give the figure any meaning: its title is none other than the title of a well-known antique statue from which it is directly inspired, kept at the musée du Louvre: Le Sommeil or Génie du repos éternel. The sculpture differs, of course, with the torso leaning on its right side to the point of disrupting balance, but the antique reference remains obvious: it is reinforced by the presence of a striking crevasse on the waistline. It is tempting to imagine that there existed a first state, in clay, nicely vertical like the antique version, which Rodin sought to bend until the figure broke at the waistline. As always, he refused to erase the traces of the accident, which were then reproduced for the enlargement.