Sculpture Journal

Rodin and the modèle italien

Sculpture Journal (2018), 27, (1), 75–88.

Abstract

Late in his career Auguste Rodin recalled his first encounter, around 1880, with the model Pignatelli, when the Italian spontaneously assumed a pose on the model stand that became the basis of St John the Baptist Preaching. This article explores this episode through an investigation of Pignatelli’s place within the fraternity of Italian models that emerged in Rome early in the nineteenth century and after 1870 established an immigrant community in Paris. It argues that modèles italiens, who had long been valued by French artists for their classical proportions and their command of the gestures that were the foundation of Christian and classical iconography, seemed to provide a connection between nineteenth-century Paris and the Renaissance and antique Rome. Pignatelli’s performance in Rodin’s studio thus typifies the collective bodily knowledge passed down within the community of Italian models and exemplifies their contribution to maintaining iconographic traditions.

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Details

Author details

Waller, Susan