Category Archives: Auguste Rodin

All About Eve: Expressing the Mood In Sculpture

The character of Eve, the second woman created (successfully) by God who was supposed to be a good wife to Adam but ended up expelling both herself and her husband from Paradise, has long been popular in the realm of the fine arts. The sculptors in this post very differently conveyed the mood and expressions of Eve, both prior and after the Fall.

The English sculptor Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867) presented Eve at the moment she was listening to Satan. She makes a warning gesture, while her face expresses attention and interest. Apparently the composition was inspired by a passage from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a very similar sculpture, carved in 1822, can be seen at the Bristol City Art Gallery. The 1842 sculpture (below) is at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

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Edward Hodges Baily, Eve listening to the voice (1842, V&A Museum, London)

 

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Edward Hodges Baily, Eve by the water (1822, Bristol City Art Gallery)

Another English sculptor Thomas Brock depicted Eve after the Fall. Her left hand is covering a shoulder in a somewhat protective gesture (and, since this is a left hand, we’re again reminded of Baily’s Eve), but the whole figure produces a strange blend of sensuality, submission, and shame. A life-size plaster figure was showcased by Brock at the Royal Academy in 1898, and the marble sculpture was shown at the Paris Exhibition. The marble sculpture can be seen at the +Tate Gallery in London.

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Sir Thomas Brock, Eve (1900, a copy, V&A Museum, London)

Finally, Auguste Rodin, whose black Eve is on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, was originally making this sculpture for the Gates of Hell, his large-scale project, on which he began to work in 1881. He did not finish the sculpture because his sitter was getting heavier and heavier with child, and this is reflected in the rough ending of the original bronze model.

But the figure he created must have held tight on his own imagination: a year later, in 1882, he produced a smaller, smooth statue, repeating the original Eve’s protective gesture. This became a hit both with the critics and the public and was reproduced in bronze, marble, and terracota.

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Auguste Rodin, Eve (after 1882, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery)