Rodin′s rediscovered ′Andromede′ sculpture sells for over $4 million | Arts | DW | 31.05.2017
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Arts

Rodin's rediscovered 'Andromede' sculpture sells for over $4 million

Auguste Rodin's long-lost sculpture of the mythical Ethiopian princess "Andromede" smashed predictions when it went under the hammer at a Paris auction on Tuesday.

There had been a lot of excitement when, on the century of Auguste Rodin's death, a long-forgotten sculpture was rediscovered in Madrid earlier this year.

"Andromede was awaiting us," said Stéphane Aubert, associate director of the Paris-based Artcurial auction house that sold the work, of the sculpture unexpectedly turning up in the Spanish capital. "This was the moving and rare emotion we felt when we rediscovered this major work by Rodin, preciously kept in the same family from generation to generation for all these years."

For a long time, all trace of the masterpiece created by Rodin in 1886-87 was lost, even if it was known that the work was gifted to the family of Paris-based Chilean diplomat Carlos Morla Vicuna in 1888.

Vicuna had originally asked his friend Auguste Rodin to produce a portrait of his wife Luisa. Rodin's subsequent marble bust of the young woman was greatly admired after it was exhibited at the Salon National des Beaux Arts, and the French state then asked to acquire the piece. After Vicuna, a patron of the arts, agreed to relinquish the bust, Rodin thanked him by giving him "Andromede."

Filmstill von «Rodin», Jacques Doillon (Frankreich) (Festival de Cannes)

Rodin at work in a scene from "Rodin," which just screened at the Cannes Film Festival

"For 130 years she stayed in this family of diplomats despite the members' different foreign postings," said Bruno Jaubert, Artcurial's director of the impressionist and modern art department, who also helped locate the sculpture in Madrid.

The white marble sculpture shows the Ethiopian princess Andromede, a figure in Greek mythology, naked asleep on a rock. It was one of four pieces created by Rodin on the subject that are held in galleries and private collections around the world.

Andromede was only expected to fetch around 1.2 million euros at the Tuesday auction. Purchased by an unnamed European collector, it went for more than three times that amount, for nearly 3.7 million euros ($4.1 million).

However, the substantial sale price is far eclipsed by the record set last year for a Rodin marble sculpture, "Eternal springtime," which sold for $20.41 million (18.25 million euros) at Sotheby's in New York in May 2016.

sb/eg (AFP, dpa)

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