Skeleton and Skull

Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)

Circa 1856

Pencil, pen and black ink on paper, cut out and pasted on a support

H. 25.3 cm ; W. 11 cm

D.100 - D.102

Avery early passion for drawing, when he was barely nine, is what seems to have distinguished and set the young Auguste apart from his modest, hard-working family. “As far back as I can remember, when I was young, I used to draw. A grocer from whom my mother used to buy wrapped his prunes in paper bags made out of the pages of illustrated books, even ones with engravings. I used to copy them. They were my first models.” (Dujardin-Beaumetz, 1913).


As soon as Rodin could concentrate on learning how to draw, in 1854, when he began attending the “ Petite École”, he was taught how to draw from memory and also encouraged to practise copying engravings and drawings.

Skeleton and Skull is composed of two copies he made during his years as a student, sketches the young artist cut out and assembled together at a later date. The very precise ink line drawing and use of fine, regular hatchings were ways of reproducing the techniques involved in engraving, while Rodin’s fascination for the skeleton conveyed his desire to discover the underlying structures of the human body, beneath the visible outer layer of flesh.


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