Assemblage: Head of Saint John the Baptist with Three Hands in a Medallion

Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)

Circa 1910

Plaster and reliquary

H. 17.4 cm ; W. 14 cm ; D. 6.4 cm


Gift of Mme Rudier.

Rodin used the theme of Saint John the Baptist recurrently, as did his contemporaries. Since it was both sensual and religious, it was very successful. Rodin first handled this theme in 1878, followed, in 1887, by the Head of Saint John the Baptist on a Platter.


Here, in what resembles a reliquary, Rodin has combined a reduced cast of the Head of Saint John the Baptist with three hands. These encircle the head like wreaths of flowers or like the paper quilling around relics in Roman Catholicism.


The work is unusual; it can be linked to that slender religious thread running through Rodin’s oeuvre, which was perhaps stronger than initially thought, and to his fondness for fragmentation and assemblages.


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