Auguste Rodin’s “Étude de main gauche, Hand no. 38”

By: Goulven Le Morvan

Lot 1 – Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). ÉTUDE DE MAIN GAUCHE, HAND NO. 38, CONCEIVED CA. 1885-1900; THIS BRONZE VERSION CAST BETWEEN CA. 1970-1980. 3.63 x 1.75 x 1.63 in — 9.2 x 4.4 x 4.1 cm. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

This sculpture was exhibited at the Dominion Gallery in Montreal in 1967 during an exhibition of Rodin’s works, presented under the umbrella of the Musée Rodin. The foreword of the catalogue was written by Cecile Goldscheider, the Conservator at the Musée Rodin. In 2007 in the most recent catalogue of the artwork kept by the Musée Rodin, a chapter is dedicated to the hands made by Rodin, emphasizing the importance of these works:

“‘Rodin accumulated these detailed studies; his studio showcases are full of partial studies of torsos and hands. He passionately sought out the expressions of the human hand,’ declared Gustave Kahn. The hand sculptures, which number in the hundreds, were mostly modelled during the 1880s and 1890s, and although the first ones were simple fragments destined for La Porte de l’Enfer, he knew how to give each of them, however small, an extraordinary power, which designated them to become autonomous works in their own right.

He was encouraged in this by the ancient fragments he collected, as well as by a long tradition of making the hand almost an individual in its own right – and this long before Caesar isolated a finger to pay homage to the Thumb (1965). […] These models are difficult to identify, with the exception of La Main crispée, which he very early on gave the status of a work in its own right. […] As early as 1926, the chairman of the museum’s board of directors, Baron Chassériau, suggested that the museum make editions of the hands: “I was thinking,” he said, “of the quantity of models of hands of all kinds that are at Meudon and which, reduced to bronze, would certainly be a source of revenue. We’d buy them to make gifts for various ceremonies where we’re embarrassed by the choice of an object to offer.”

Much appreciated by collectors, including Sacha Guitry […], these casts multiplied especially after the Second World War: thirty-nine of them were issued in series, the hands numbered 1 to 22 from May 1948, then the others little by little, the last series (“Main n° 39”) being cast between 1974 and 1977.” (1)

About the auction 

Spanning over a century of painting, drawing and sculpture by important Canadian and International artists, our Modern, Post-War & Contemporary Art auction features works by Montague Dawson, Auguste Rodin, Randolf Hewton and René Marcil, with choice works on paper by William Kurelek, William Perehudoff, Jean Paul Riopelle and Jean McEwen. We are pleased to present a curated selection of exciting contemporary Canadian art from an important corporate collection including works by Robert Fones, Will Gorlitz and Monica Tap.

Please contact us to find out more.

Available for bidding March 23 – 28, this auction will be on view at our Toronto gallery, 275 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5A 1K2

 Monday, March 25 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Tuesday, March 26 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Or by appointment.

(1) Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le bronze: catalogue des œuvres conservées au Musée Rodin, Réunion des musées nationaux, 2007, p.501

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