Eve, 1881

Rodin received his first public commission in 1880: he was to create a bronze door for the Museum of Arts and Crafts being planned in Paris, and was free to choose the theme himself. Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Rodin decided upon the so-called Gates of Hell. He never relinquished this intention in the following thirty-seven years until his death. It became the central motif for a large part of his oeuvre and gave rise to some three hundred individual figures. The figure of Eve, just like its counterpart Adam, goes back to studies which Rodin had already worked on before and took up again for the Gates of Hell.

The depiction is of the agonised moment of shame through the perception of nakedness after the fall into sin. The figure seeks to cover her bosom and face. Her left hand makes a warding-off gesture, as if in protection against a blow. Moreover, in a suggestion of crouching, Eve draws her left leg in slightly so as to conceal herself entirely. Rodin did not complete this psychologically expressive sculpture in the academic sense. He abstained from refinement through a process of smoothing and polishing, instead leaving the surface restless and rough. This deliberately unfinished aspect was one of the revolutionary stylistic techniques with which he became the founding father of modern sculpture.

Photo: Städel Museum – U. Edelmann – ARTOTHEK

175 × 51 × 63.5 cm
Inv. No. ST.P. 374

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