Just-cast Rodin's Aphrodite fetches $1.5m

The sculpture of Aphrodite was created by Rodin in 1913 and cast only in plaster for a play of the same name in Paris.
The sculpture of Aphrodite was created by Rodin in 1913 and cast only in plaster for a play of the same name in Paris.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

London - A sculpture by renowned French artist Auguste Rodin, cast in bronze for the first time only last year, sold for £722,500 (S$1.5 million) at a London sale on Tuesday.

The sculpture of Aphrodite, moulds of which were until recently thought lost, was created by Rodin in 1913 for a play of the same name in Paris - but at the time it was cast only in plaster for its appearance on stage.

"Conceived in 1913 for a play, this sculpture was never cast as the moulds containing the upper part of the arms were only found very recently," said Mr Pierre Martin-Vivier of the Christie's auction house in a statement.

Only last year, during research into Rodin's donations to the French state, did the museum housing the artist's work uncover the complete mould, allowing it to be cast in bronze.

The 2.15m-tall piece shows the nude goddess of love with her arms elegantly stretched above her head.

The sculpture by Rodin, better known for works such as The Kiss and The Thinker, is a much larger version of an older image of Aphrodite which featured in Rodin's monumental Gates Of Hell.

"Animated by a gentle swing provoked by the weight of her own body, Aphrodite cannot properly be called a standing nude, rather the figure seems to be suspended, her feet only touching the earth lightly," said the auction house of the piece.

"The sculpture is an example of the unconventional charge with which Auguste Rodin was able to invest the classical tradition of sculpture."

The lot was sold as part of the auction house's Impressionist And Modern Art sale.

The 42-lot evening sale tallied £71.5 million on Tuesday. It came on the heels of Christie's unprecedented US$1.7 billion (S$2.3 billion) week in New York last month.

Tuesday's result was the second lowest for the category at Christie's London sales in the past six years. Eight of the 50 lots offered failed to sell, including pieces by Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The top lot was Claude Monet's Iris Mauves, a 1914-1917 painting of flowers, that fetched £10.8 million.

Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Just-cast Rodin's Aphrodite fetches $1.5m'. Print Edition | Subscribe