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Friday 18 November 2016

Auguste Rodin’s drypoint, “Antonin Proust”

Auguste Rodin (aka Pierre Auguste Rodin) (1840–1917)
“Antonin Proust”, 1884/8, published by Roger Marx in “Auguste Rodin,” opp. 190,  “Pan”, vol.III no.3, 1897, with publication details lettered lower left in the margin: “AUGUSTE RODIN, ANTONIN PROUST  ORIGINALRADIERUNG  PAN III 3.”
Drypoint on heavy cream wove paper (Japan) with large margins as published
Size: (sheet) 36.8 x 27.2 cm; (plate) 23.7 x 17.7 cm
State V (of VII)
Delteil 10.V (Delteil, Loys, “Le Peintre-Graveur Illustré (XIXe et XXe siècles)”, 31 vols, Paris, 1902); Thorson 1975 X.5 (Thorson, Victoria, “Rodin Graphics, a catalogue raisonné of drypoints and book illustrations”, Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, 1975)

Condition: faultless impression with margins as publish in excellent condition—almost pristine—apart from a faint stain towards the lower right corner of the margin.

I am selling this original and very famous drypoint by Rodin for a total cost of AU$487 (currently US$359.38/EUR339.15/GBP289.01 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this genuine Rodin, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

When I was a student I remember looking at what seemed like an endless array of portraits that history has deemed to be "masterworks." At the time, I could see that they were “well done”, but no one took the trouble to explain what made a master portrait different to a skilfully executed one. Mindful of this shortfall in information, I thought I might offer a personal evaluation of what makes this image a masterwork.

Let me begin by proposing that knowledge about perspective, anatomy and technical skills play only a small part in creating a masterwork. This may sound like a surprising suggestion, but if I were to describe how a master artist draws a chair, for instance, few masters would begin by laying down a network of perspective guidelines. Instead, a master is more likely to draw from a personal experience of sitting in a chair and draw the chair from a sense of touch (i.e. a haptic approach where the drawing instrument becomes an imaginary hand). The outcome of drawing from experience rather than by formula is that the chair drawn from the experience of sitting in one is more likely to be convincingly real. In short, drawing is not so much about technical knowledge (but it is still an element), rather it is about intuitively “feeling’ the subject into the drawn image—a bit like Michelangelo who asserted that he could “see”/”feel” the figure he was sculpting within the marble.

If I now turn to this masterwork portrait of Antonin Proust, note how the fine strokes of the burin describing Proust’s chest are not a mechanical alignment hatched lines reproducing the surface contours of his chest. Instead they are exploratory strokes where each one is laid as if Rodin was searching and metaphorically “feeling” the form of Proust’s chest.

At this point I need to point out that when Rodin executed this portrait, his approach was not to sit Proust in a fixed position and to draw what he saw as precisely as he could. Such an approach is not the way that master artists work. Rodin knew that he had to move around his subject (Proust) so that he “understood” at an intimate level the form of his sitter’s head. This acquired knowledge then guided each stroke that Rodin made.

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