There is something tender that has disappeared. The perfect geometric head, equalizing the two eyes has intelligence.
Torso at the very back, more precious, more unforgettable, more immobile in the distance, in the darkness of the obscene.
Here the ancient genius of architecture sleeps. There, its voluptuousness has undressed her, in the middle the coat and its open folds, Nirvana.
There is always a virgin in the woman, in the sense of beauty, of the beautiful.
It is a wonder that the spherical form, the only form incomparable in its arrangements which produces masterpieces.
Today, it is immobile with beauty, in bronze. The imperceptible movement of light. One feels the immobile muscles, all in bundles ready to arise if the light moves.”
Rodin’s characteristic, rough-hewn style and virtuoso technique made him the leading sculptor of his time and placed him at the vanguard of modern art. As such, he was regularly sought after for commissions including busts of George Bernard Shaw (1906) and Gustav Mahler (1909). Perhaps the most famous of these bronze portraits was of Victor Hugo, commissioned by the French state in 1889 for installation into the Panthéon. Rodin worked for several decades on his most elaborate work, The Gates of Hell, a pair of bronze doors for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, commissioned in 1880. Much of Rodin’s later work, including The Thinker, drew inspiration from this immense project, which remained unfinished at the time of his death.
“Rodin had other preoccupations in the twentieth century as well, especially collecting and writing. He acquired an impressive collection of ancient sculpture, also purchasing medieval, Indian, and Far Eastern work in a way that was adventurous. He enjoyed making his views on these works known both through his own writing and through interviews… His reputation and influence extended beyond Europe–to the Far East and to North and South America, and it is safe to say no artist was more famous than Rodin at the beginning of the twentieth century,” (“Auguste Rodin,” National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue, https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.2251.html).
Coquiot, an aspiring painter and student at the École des Beaux Arts, became Rodin’s secretary after the pair were introduced by the woman who delivered their daily bread. After abandoning his artistic aspirations, Coquiot “turned out to be an able belletrist with a talent for writing vignettes of Parisian and provincial life, but it is as an art critic, collector, and historian that he will be remembered,” (Maurice Utrillo, Coquiot, transl. Rickard). Our manuscript is quoted in Coquiot’s 1917 biography Rodin a l’hotel de Biron et a Meudon. Coquiot also penned biographies of Toulouse-Lautrec, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Renoir, Degas, and Maurice Utrillo, whose art he collected and brought to a wider audience.
Manuscript written on laid paper with an Impérial Treasury de La Rue watermark. Both letter and manuscript are folded and in excellent condition. Rodin manuscripts are very rare on the market; we could find only one example in the last 50 years of auction records.