AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
16 x 19 x 16 in (48 x 41 x 41 cm)
Markings: Inscribed A. Rodin, © by Musée Rodin, numbered, dated and stamped with foundry mark
Other casts: Shizuoka, Prefectural Museum of Art; Séoul, Rodin Gallery; São Paulo, State Picture Gallery
This group, which is difficult to date accurately, is a perfect example of the assemblages produced by Rodin starting in the second half of the 1880s. The composition consists of a female centaur, whose torso is taken directly from that of his Méditation, and a bacchante, reconstituted from the Torse d’Adèle. These two figures were originally placed at the two ends of the tympanum of La Porte de l’Enfer, and are formally linked by way of a diagonal axis, the curve of the statue of Méditation echoing the arched Torse d’Adèle.
The fantastic centaurs - half-human, half-horse - were an essential element of Dionysian processions; for the Greeks they symbolized bestial appetites. They inspired Rodin early on in his career, and he frequently used them in female form in both sculptures and drawings, playing on the contrast between the human and the animal, the rational and the irrational. This Bacchanale perfectly synthesizes Rodin’s formal study of the female body. He was fascinated by the portrayal of Lesbian couples by artists such as Degas and Rops, and the press referred to him as the "Great Faun."