Sculpture "Caryatide Carrying Her Stone" made by Auguste Rodin, an eminent French artist and forerunner of modern sculpture, will be presented on the escarpment by the Water Tower from 17 June to 19 November 2023.
The full title of the sculpture is "Fallen Caryatide Carrying Her Stone". Caryatides are architectonic supports in form of sculpted female figures, serving as columns. In his work, August Rodin approached the theme of caryatides several times. Apart from the "Caryatide Carrying Her Stone", he created also "Caryatide Carrying" an Urn" and "Caryatide Carrying a Sphere".
The sculpture presented in Łazienki Gardens is a version of the motif on which the artist worked from 1881, when he started his masterpiece "The Gates of Hell", composed of more than 200 figures and designed as a decorative entrance to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. The sculptor never finished the piece.
In his work on "The Gates of Hell", Rodin was inspired by both Italian literature and visual arts. The source of the topic was, among others, the first part of "The Divine Comedy" by Dante, which describes the hell. The form of the composition was influenced by the low relief decoration on the door to the Baptisery of Saint John in Florence by Lorenzo Ghiberti, depicting Old Testament scenes. The characteristic twisted poses of the caryatides, the shaping and texture of the sculptures are reminiscent also of Michelangelo’s art.
The composition of "The Gates of Hell" includes sculpture and low relief groups. Some of them were made by Rodin into individual works on a larger scale, as free-standing sculptures – for example the famous "Thinker and The Kiss along with the presented caryatide.
The sculpture is an enlarged version of the figure from the upper part of "The Gates of Hell", topping the left pilaster. Separated from its utilitarian function – as a support of an architectonic element – the sculpture has gained own identity and fully uncovered its expression to the viewers. Contrary to ancient sculptures, which stand straight, this caryatide is bent under the weight of the stone, although with no signs of physical strain. The figure is struggling really with the inner suffering.
Auguste Rodin – the most remarkable French sculptor at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. His works are characterized by the unique shaping and texture of sculptures, full of chiaroscuro nuances. Rodin has greatly influenced the art of almost all European sculptors, also Polish ones, among them: Konstanty Laszczka, Henryk Kuna, Kazimierz Ostrowski or Wacław Szymanowski, whose works can be admired in the Old Orangery in Łazienki Park. Apart from the sculptures from "The Gates of Hell", the most famous works by Rodin include: "Bronze Age", "Monument to Balzac" and "The Burghers of Calais".