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St. John the Baptist c1877-79
cast bronze, life size
SF Legion of Honor Museum
|Form continued. After the sculptures have been cast they are then treated with chemicals such as ammonia or other salts that creates a hard dark to light green color called a patina.
In addition to this, Rodin's work is about realism. His work is rather illusionistic and on first glance how work seems accurate but on closer observation you may note that Rodin also tends to exaggerate and overemphasize individual elements in his sculpture. For example, here the head's features are slightly too large as are the hands and feet. Another exaggeration in this sculpture is the figures posture. Critics wondered if the figure was walking or preaching and felt that the fact that both heals were placed firmly on the earth was awkward.
Iconography and Form combined: (According to www.media.dickson.edu
"Auguste Rodin's St. John the Baptist Preaching at once embodies a desire for naturalistic physical beauty and a powerful didactic purpose and presence. This freestanding statue is meant to be seen from all angles and it is important to note the continuity of gesture, proportion, and musculature as one moves around the sculpture. The artist's choice of bronze as a sculptural material is very dramatic and creates a sense of fluidity through the play of light and shadow that is produced by reflections from the hollows and protrusions of the robust and well-defined figure. A sense of visual balance and harmony is achieved by the smooth lines of the fully outstretched arm, the extended back foot, the gentle tilt of the head, and the subtly gesturing fingertip. There is the distinct presence of personality and wisdom in the weathered, yet determined face of St. John. In fact, Rodin's rendering of the human form was so convincing that it was thought that his plaster mold for the statue was made directly from his model for the statue."
Context: (Text taken from www.media.dickson.edu ) "Auguste Rodin's decision to create the statue of St. John the Baptist Preaching suggests both a desire to choose a traditional Biblical subject and to create a figure of a more direct and serious tone and naturalism than was typical within the prevailing aesthetic ideals of the Third Republic. In addition, Rodin was inspired to create such a statue upon first sight of his model, an Abruzzi peasant by the name of Pignatelli, in whom he "saw" his St. John and described him as "a man of nature, a visionary, a believer, a forerunner come to announce one greater than himself."2 Furthermore, Rodin demonstrated his skill as a brilliant sculptor who was able to conceive and execute "an important public sculpture of a Biblical figure making a gesture that could be both rhetorical and symbolic." Albert E. Elsen further describes St. John's gestures as symbolic and indicative of the Messiah's descent from heaven." One of the most startling features of St John the Baptist Preaching is the almost unnatural sense of suspended movement. While the significance of this unusual cessation of movement can be traced to the subject and the expression of the figure, Rodin was very much aware of this incomplete movement which one might also associate with elements of dance: `Take my St. John, for example,' Rodin explained to Paul Gsell, `While he is represented with both feet on the ground, a snapshot of a model executing the same movement would probably show the back foot already raised and moving in the direction of the other one.'4
|Form: Bronze sculpture cast from a plaster mold. Again, left rough hewn and unpolished. This sculpture and its details are much more roughly rendered and a bit more ambiguous than Rodin's St. John. In fact this sculpture recycled the molds of the earlier sculpture as its basis. Rodin reworked the original and removed the parts of the body that he felt were unnecessary.Iconography: Rodin meant for this sculpture to be an answer to the critics who had attacked his earlier sculpture of St. John. Here Rodin was attempting to pare or boiled down his sculpture into the most essential elements needed to portray the movement of a walking man. Therefore the head and the arms were not necessary to Rodin's vision.
Context: Rodin also happened to be lazy and more interested in recycling figures when he could as opposed to making new ones. You will, as you spend more time looking at his sculptures, begin to notice this more and more often. It is also widely known that Rodin was having an affair with an underage apprentice girl by the name of Camille Claudel, and it is thought that it was she who actually did most of Rodin's work for him while he took credit. One must assume he was a scoundrel for exploiting the affections of a lovesick young girl, but it must be remembered that it could only be intrinsic in someone who greatly admired the poet Balzac.
According to http://www.rodin-art.com/a19.htm
The result of the transformation of St. John the Baptist was The Walking Man, a figure, or partial figure, executed in a variety of sizes. Rodin had kept studies related to St. John the Baptist, made in 1877-78, as parts rather than as a complete figure. He reassembled the torso and legs in 1898 but purposefully did not include the arms or head. This elimination of detail and finish emphasized his primary inspiration for the figure, a man who walks. In one version Rodin enlarged The Walking Man to approximately twice its original height; in another he reduced the figure to approximately half its original height. When cast in bronze or plaster, The Walking Man retained all accidents, blemishes, and unfinished areas of the clay. Rodin emphasized that The Walking Man was a record of making-and unmaking-sculpture, not merely a technical realization of an idea worked out in sculpted human forms. At its largest scale, The Walking Man is the grandest statement of the aesthetic of the fragment that Rodin brought into the twentieth century. Torso (Study for "The Walking Man") is equally dramatic and carries the artist’s ideas of the process of making and subtracting from a figure to their ultimate conclusion.
pa.ti.na n, pl pa.ti.nas or pa.ti.nae [It, fr. L, shallow dish--more at paten] (1748) 1 a: a usu. green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color b: a surface appearance of something grown beautiful esp. with age or use 2: an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character 3: a superficial covering or exterior