Auguste Rodin Sculpture reproduction
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
This small figure belongs to the cohort of damned souls trapped in the circles of Hell as described by Dante in The Divine Comedy (1307-21). Like many late-19th-century Romantic and Symbolist artists, Rodin chose to depict the darkest part of this trilogy – Hell, Purgatory, Paradise – in his monumental Gates of Hell, commissioned by the French government in 1880 to serve as the entrance to a future museum of decorative arts, a project that never came to fruition.
Despair appears several times on the right-hand section of The Gates. Auguste Rodin then decided to remove the figure from this initial context and turn it into an independent work in its own right. With body curled up in an unconventional, acrobatic pose, this small nude retains an air of mystery. The enlarged version, which modified the pose slightly – the leg is no longer held outstretched vertically but folded horizontally, and the rock is larger – gave rise to a new version that was also placed on The Gates of Hell (circa 1890).
In 1897, the small plaster was shown at the Venice Biennale entitled Shade holding her Foot. Not until 1900, at Auguste Rodin’s exhibition in the Pavillon de l’Alma, Paris, did the work appear under the name Despair. The unusual composition of this piece, which is clearly one of the sources for Aristide Maillol’s The Mediterranean (1905), and the very simplicity of the modelling heralded the works of future generations of sculptors.
Edited by: musée Rodin
Dimensions of the Despair: H. 17 ; W. 9 ; D. 8 cm
(Inches: H. 6 in ; W. 3 in ; D. 3 in). Weight: about 1 kilo.
Cast in the same size as the originals
Material: resin with plaster patina
© Rodin Museum - Paris