• The 'Inédits'

    A case in point: Méditation or The Inner Voice

    An important 'Inédit'

    A masterpiece cast in bronze for the very first time

    On November 17, 2017 -the precise day of the centennial of Auguste Rodin's passing, I was overjoyed to finally discover the first bronze cast of The Inner Voice, a masterpiece of which I had noted the plaster in the exhibition "Hell according to Rodin," on view at the Musée Rodin during the fall of 2016.

    Although the The Inner Voice, a highly significant original plaster identified in the inventory of the Musée Rodin as 'S 680', was shown in several important exhibitions since Auguste Rodin bequeathed it to the French State as part of his ‘donation’ of 1916, it had never been cast in bronze until now.

    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)

    La Voix Intérieure ou La Méditation, sans bras - 1896/97

    Plaster - 54 x 18.8 x 15.9 cm

    S 680

    Rainer Maria Rilke famously remarked:


    The arms are surprisingly absent. Rodin felt them in this instance to be something extraneous to the body, which sought to envelop itself without any external aid. One may recall [Eleanora] Duse, who, in a play by D’Annunzio, when bitterly abandoned, tries to give an embrace without arms and to hold without hands. This scene... conveyed the impression that the arms were a superfluous adornment, something for the rich and overindulgent, something which those in pursuit of poverty could easily cast aside. In that moment she did not look as if she had sacrificed something important.... The same is true of Rodin’s armless statues; nothing vital is missing. One stands before them as if before a completed whole that brooks no complement.

    The historical relevance of The Inner Voice cannot be underestimated, but even as Auguste Rodin’s influence on subsequent generations of artists is undeniable, one must always be mindful when using the word 'influence' to make sure this term does not take anything away from the creativity of the artists who may have been inspired by his oeuvre. For example, the still penniless young Matisse purchased in 1900 a plaster of Rodin’s Bust of Rochefort from Ambroise Vollard, and he no doubt visited the Pavillon de l’Alma exhibition that same year. The first large clay figure produced by Matisse, The Serf (1900-04), clearly seems to have drawn its inspiration from The Walking Man, then entitled Study for Saint John the Baptist. And even more pointedly, since it is known that Matisse visited Rodin in 1899, it is likely that he saw The Inner Voice, either in Rodin's studio or a the Pavillon de l’Alma, a few years therefore, before he produced his masterpiece La Serpentine.

    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)

    La Voix Intérieure ou La Méditation, sans bras - 1896/97

    foundry plaster - 54 x 18.8 x 15.9 cm

    Henri MATISSE (1869-1954)

    La Serpentine, 1909

    Bronze - 56.5 x 28 x 19 cm

    So even as Matisse was manifestly sensitive to the oeuvre of "the father of modern sculpture," he nevertheless created La Serpentine, a pillar in the temple of Modern Sculpture. Similarly, Rodin was extremely moved upon discovering the work of Michelangelo, and greatly inspired by the Renaissance Master he gave a new life to the notion of non-finito. However, his treatment of the fragment for example, greatly differs from that of Michelangelo's. In this way, just as one finds stylistic correspondences between Michelangelo’s A Slave conserved in London at the V&A, and Rodin’s several variations of The Inner Voice, La Méditation, one can also discover interesting parallels between his seminal sculpture and masterpieces of modernism that were created in the next decades after The Inner Voice.

    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)

    La Voix Intérieure ou La Méditation, sans bras - 1896/97

    foundry plaster - 54 x 18.8 x 15.9 cm

    MICHELANGELO (1475-1564)

    A Slave, c. 1516-1519

    Wax - 17.6 x 5 x 6.5 cm

    One can read in an essay entitled "Rodin and Modernism" on the Musée Rodin website:


    In 1904, almost certainly spurred on by the reputation that Rodin had acquired in Eastern Europe following his appearance at the various Sezession exhibitions, the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi travelled across Europe – on foot so the legend claims – to meet him in Paris. Although very much impressed by Rodin, he only stayed a few weeks in his studio, convinced that he had to free himself of his influence: “No other tree can grow in the shadow of a great oak,” he reputedly declared. Until the early 1910s, Brancusi’s sculpture remained in the same vein as Rodin’s. He soon realized that he could only follow his own path if he abandoned modelling, the technique in which Rodin excelled, and turned to the age-old technique of carving stone or wood. And yet, his tributes to Rodin, The Kiss and The Gate of the Kiss, are among his most emblematic works.


    In this light, eventhough Brancusi went on to develop a very personal pictorial language where simplification and abstraction were brought to a new level, upon comparing his iconic Muse endormie to the face of The Inner Voice one cannot help but wonder how closely both artists tapped into a similar sensibility.

    Constantin BRANCUSI (1876-1957)

    La Muse endormie, original marble version carved in 1909-1910

    Patinated bronze with gold leaf - 26.7 cm

    cast by 1913


    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)

    La Voix Intérieure ou La Méditation, sans bras, 1896/97 - DETAIL

    Bronze - 54 x 18.8 x 15.9 cm - Ed. 1/8 (detail)

    Cast in 2017 by Fonderie Susse, Paris



    Now moving forward from the the first decade of the 20th century, the period during which the stylistic foundations of modernism were laid, the early 30’s saw a renewed creativity in Pablo Picasso’s oeuvre when he fell in love with Marie-Thérèse Walter. So in Boisgeloup and Paris, the Catalan Master who had probably also visited the Pavillon de l’Alma exhibition together with the painter Zuloaga (also a friend of Rodin's who owned one of his paintings), created some of the most spectacularly sculptural paintings in his career. In this way, one cannot help, but once again without necessarily invoking any 'influence,' note the extraordinary visual dialogue between Picasso’s works of this period and The Inner Voice.

    Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973)

    Baigneuse Assise, 1930

    Oil on canvas - 163.2 x 129.5 cm

    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)

    La Voix Intérieure ou La Méditation, 1896/97

    Plaster - 54 x 18.8 x 15.9 cm -


    Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973)

    Femme au fauteuil rouge, 1932

    Oil on canvas - 130.18 x 97 cm


    Finally, in the oeuvre Alberto Giacometti, perhaps the greatest sculptor in the of 20th century, moving past the obvious female inspiration common to so many artists, when one examines for example Woman with a Broken Shoulder sculpted in the late 50's, one can only muse upon the fact that echoing timeless antiquity, the Swiss genius also sacrifices a limb on the altar of the quest for the 'essential figure.'

    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)

    La Voix Intérieure ou La Méditation, sans bras - 1896/97

    foundry wax - 54 x 18.8 x 15.9 cm


    Alberto GIACOMETTI (1901-1966)

    Femme, épaule cassée, c.1958–9

    Bronze - 65.1 x 12.1 x 20 cm


    November 17, 2017

    Gardens of the Musée Rodin

    Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)

    La Voix Intérieure ou La Méditation, sans bras, 1896/97

    Bronze - 54 x 18.8 x 15.9 cm - Ed. 1/8

    Cast in 2017 by Fonderie Susse, Paris

    For some thoughts on Rodin's presence in the contemporary world please read "Musing upon the legacy of Rodin".