Rodin's Andromede sells for over $5 million at Paris auction

Andromede by French sculptor Auguste Rodin is displayed at the auction house in March 2017.
Andromede by French sculptor Auguste Rodin is displayed at the auction house in March 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - Auguste Rodin's white marble sculpture of the mythical Ethiopian princess Andromede fetched nearly €3.7 million (S$5.7 million) at a Paris auction on Tuesday (May 30), well above the top estimated price of €1.2 million.

The rediscovered masterpiece - created in 1886-1887 and depicting the daughter of Ethiopian King Cepheus nude and asleep on a rock - was sold by the Artcurial auction house just as Paris is marking the centenary of Rodin's death.

An exhibit of more than 200 of his works and those of artists he influenced is showing at the Grand Palais in the French capital until the end of July.

In 1888, Rodin presented the work to Carlos Morla Vicuna, a Chilean diplomat living in Paris at the time, as a gift, said Bruno Jaubert, Artcurial's director of the impressionist and modern art department.

It has been in the Vicuna's family ever since.

"For 130 years she stayed in this family of diplomats despite the members' different foreign postings," Jaubert said.

The work, one of five carvings Rodin created of the subject, is especially notable for the contrast between Andromede's smooth finish and the virtually untouched roughness of the jutting slab of rock.

The US$4.1 million sale price, while substantial, is far from the record set last year for a Rodin sculpture - his "Eternal springtime" marble sculpture of lovers sold for US$20.41 million (S$28 million) at Sotheby's in New York in May 2016.