7, count them, 7 wonderful sculptures by Auguste Rodin, scattered amongst those of Henry Moore, sitting in perfect harmony in the simple beauty of Henry and Irina’s garden. Add a wonderful warm October day, the leaves starting to gain their autumnal colours, with sun and enough clouds to make things interesting and you have a glimpse of something eternal. This was our day at Hoglands, Perry Green, Hertfordshire. If you would like a virtual tour by the curators click here
My previous post was intended as a quick tour to set the scene, this is to dwell on the magnificence of Rodin’s work.
I really wanted to capture this image of Adam with the brightness of the sun behind. Adam – the prototypical human in the garden. I don’t know much about this particular work. But it would seem this captures Adam after his disastrous disobedience. Strength and grace, yet a weary vulnerability in the angle of his head and tension in the muscles.
I can almost hear and respond to the “What have we done?” For a different interpretation by the curators click here (they suggest the figure is the newly created Adam, unfurling and his finger is awaiting the divine spark as depicted on the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo. You choose, or maybe accept both or come up with another idea).
Such remarkable beauty in the form and the feeling of the muscular flesh depicted in bronze.
Is the finger awaiting the divine spark of life – a la Michelangelo – or is it pointing at the ground in which the fallen Adam must now toil. Ether way, it is remarkably powerful and full of anticipation.
I was taken by this partial female form. Click on the link above for a discussion of Rodin’s interest in partial forms and decaying ancient sculptures.
Close up you can see the simplicity of this form. I took photographs from different angles to give a more complete feel for the sculpture. I really like the subtle greens of the bronze against the pale greens of the foliage in this slightly overexposed version. (I mean photographically overexposed – not the lack of clothing. As an aside I always liked the line in a Goon Show Record, The Bridge Over the River Wye – “He died of indecent exposure…”)
I was pleased with the shadows and love the sense of the softness of the fold in the leg. Notice the way the muscles tense to keep the seated form from toppling backwards. The figure not only sits on the rock but grows out of it.
One last view of Cybele – Goddess of the Earth
I urge you to click on the link above to understand the background story. These brave men had offered themselves to be taken and executed to save the rest of the inhabitants of Calais after a lengthy siege. Rodin has captured the strength of character as well as the anxiety and tension as they surrender themselves to the English King. Good news, through the intervention of his wife the king does not execute these brave men. But at this point they expect the worst.
Rodin captures the essence of human anguish
I had to shoot into the sun to get the angles I wanted, but I quite like the dramatic results.
Such concentration on the faces of the men in this group. It is quite an experience to move around and look between the figures. Individually so amazing, and perfect in their placement as a group.
I wonder if there was blue sky that day in Calais?
Grim determination and resignation captured together. The eyes seem to be looking inward, lost in thought. Is he thinking about his own demise or the fate of his family? What jumble of thoughts are occupying him?
What loss of pride was there in surrender? The men were required to surrender themselves wearing nooses around their necks and holding the keys to the city.
One last look at the Burghers. The red shape on his eyelid is one of hundreds of ladybirds (ladybugs) that were drawn to the warmth of the metal sculptures the day we visited. The figure was so lifelike I wanted carefully to remove the insect. I could almost feel it climbing around my own eyelid.
If you click on the link above you will learn this was a study for one of the figures in the Burghers. Rodin first made the nude figures then used cloth soaked in wet clay to drape the figures. It is believed Jean D’Aire would hold the heavy keys to the city. In later versions apparently he did. The link also explains one of the ways in which Moore was influenced by Rodin. It’s worth reading.
A monochrome seemed appropriate for this close up of Jean’s face in profile.
I have nothing more to say.
Next time a study of some of the Moore pieces.