Friday, October 27, 2017

A Fake in Marble, titled Napoleon, Falsely Attributed to Auguste Rodin

NOTE: Footnotes are enclosed as: [FN ]



Rodin with his bust of Napoleon in a photograph taken circa 1910.
Photo: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/nyregion/a-rodin-hiding-in-plain-sight-in-a-new-jersey-suburb.html
NON-DISCLOSED CHROMIST-MADE FAKE

On page 617 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, fake is defined as "something that is not what it purports to be."[FN 1]

The "marble bust of Napoleon Bonaparte,"[FN 2] attributed as "lost work by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin"[FN 3] that sat on a pedestal for decades on the second floor of the Borough Hall in the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building in Madison, New Jersey, is a non-disclosed fake. This non-disclosed fake was actually done by the hands, fingers and fingerprints of a "Praticians" a.k.a. chromists, not Auguste Rodin. 

A chromist is someone who copies the work of another. 

Under U.S. Copyright Law that marble, made by a chromist, would be considered a derivative. A derivative is a reproduction. Under U.S. Copyright Law 106A, the Rights of Attribution "shall not apply to any reproduction."[FN 4] 

Now for those who would argue, that French Law is applicable, the City of Madison is not in the State of France and New Jersey is not a French province.

Yet, in a Philadelphia Inquirer published October 12, 2017 "Lost in plain sight in N.J. town hall, Rodin Napoleon coming to Philly" article, the staff writer Stephan Sailsbury wrote: "Recent research has shown that New York collector John W Simpson commissioned the bust in 1904. Rodin didn’t get very far with it, and the unfinished piece was acquired by another collector, Thomas Fortune Ryan, in about 1908. Rodin completed the bust in 1910. It was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1915 to 1929, and Dodge acquired it four years later."[FN 5] 

In 1904, Auguste Rodin did not carve this titled Napoleon marble and in 1910 Auguste Rodin did not complete it. Auguste Rodin hired a chromist [someone who copies the work of another] a.k.a. "Practicians" to reproduce in marble his plasters. Plasters reproduced result in reproductions. Chromist-made reproductions versus artist created original works of visual art i.e., sculpture are not interchangeable, much less the same. This fact is confirmed by the following sources:

OFTEN CARRIED OUT BY HENRI LE BOSSI
On the Victoria and Albert Museum's website, under the subtitle "Auguste Rodin Working Methods," it stated: "Marble sculpture by Rodin is usually seen as a product of his workshop, though many of his carvers later became established sculptors in their own right. In making a marble, the assistant would use a mechanical pointing device to scale up, or down, the original model. This highly skilled process of transferral was often carried out by Henri Le Bossé, who began working for Rodin in the 1890s and had an instinctive understanding of the master's intentions."[FN 6] 

Auguste Rodin's use of chromists to reproduce his plasters in marble is disclosed by the Musee Rodin in its description given for a marble titled Nymphs Playing: "Employing his by-now customary working method, Rodin used two plaster figures to compose a new work, typical of his interest in unsteady poses and in the erotic quality of the assemblage of two female bodies. This work, probably simply a sketch, was, however, sufficiently erotic to serve as a model, the making of which was entrusted to one of his practitioners. These men, who were sculptors in their own right working for Rodin, carved the marble under his supervision. In Nymphs Playing, the practitioner demonstrated a remarkable expertise in the rendering of the various textures: the smooth skin of the female bodies contrasts with the roughness of the unhewn marble, while the transparency of the marble between the nymphs’ legs responds to the polished surface of the part evoking the water of the stream at their feet."[FN 7]
[underline mine]

[AUGUSTE RODIN] DID NOT CARVE THEM
On page 90 of the National Gallery of Art's published 1981 Rodin Rediscovered  catalogue, Daniel Rosenfeld [former director of Colby College Museum of Art] wrote: "The critical appreciation of the marbles in Rodin's time was not compromised  by the well-known fact that he, for the most part, did not carve them."[FN 8]
[underline mine]

1900-1910 FIFTY INVOLVED IN EXECUTING MARBLES
Additionally, on page 90, the author wrote: "Documentation in the Musee Rodin reveals the names of only three or four assistants who occasionally carved for Rodin before 1880; between 1880 and 1884 there were at least eight; over the next four years the number increased to at least twelve; in the 1890's more than twenty worked in his atelier; and between 1900 and 1910 nearly fifty individuals were involved with the execution of Rodin's marble sculptures."[FN 9] 
[underline mine]
  
[AUGUSTE RODIN] DID NOT MAKE THEM
Furthermore, on page 94, the author wrote: "While there are evident technical and theoretical bases for use of assistants, the overriding issue remains the effect of this marriage of the artist and artisan upon the quality of Rodin's carved sculpture. The harshest modern assessment of these works has maintained that they should be disregarded because 'he did not make them'."[FN 10]
[underline mine]

So, if Auguste Rodin "did not make them," who did?


Here are a list of chromists [someone who copies the work of another] a.k.a. "Practicians," including but not limited to those, who were hired and paid by Auguste Rodin to reproduce in marble his plasters between 1903 and 1910:  

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), WOMAN-FISH, 1915, Marble, H. 34 cm; L. 34.1 cm; P. 43.5 cm, S.1103, Marble, 1917, Patician: Victor Peter, Ni signed or dated
"Replica of a first copy (California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco), sold by Rodin in 1915 to Mrs. Spreckels, through the American dancer Loïe Fuller"
http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/collections/sculptures/femme-poisson 
VICTOR PETER [PRACTITIONER]

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), FLOWERS IN A VASE, TRUTHS COMING OUT OF THE WELL, 1907, Marble, H. 49.5 cm; L. 61.5 cm; P. 50.5 cm, S.1418, Marble, 1907-1908, Practitioner: Louis Mathet, Neither signed nor dated
“Remember that the 1900-1910 decade corresponds to the artistic peak of Rodin, and is by far the one that has seen the greatest number of practitioners work for him. The comparison of the model of focus and the completed work shows how much interpretation the artist could expect from a practitioner like Mathet at this time: unlike the 1880s and 1890s, he did not it's not a question here of copying the plaster model as accurately as possible, but of interpreting it according to the master's instructions.”
http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/collections/sculptures/fleurs-dans-un-vase
LOUIS-DOMINIQUE MATHET [PRACTITIONER]

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), THE SLAV WOMAN, THE SEA, 1906, Marble, H. 63.4 cm; L. 68.3 cm; P. 61 cm, S.1036, Practitioner: Jean-Marie Mengue , Neither signed nor dated
“This bust can be likened to the marble in front of the sea preserved in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to which it had been donated by the collector Thomas Fortune Ryan in 1910. -  According to Léonce Bénédite's instructions, Rodin himself traced the hair to the gradine. The work still bore many traces in pencil, on the eyelid of the left eye, on the right neck. It was thus that Rodin indicated to his practitioners the modifications to be made; it also seems that a drapery to be made was indicated on the bust with the pencil and the tool. Finally, Rodin's hand, a pencil inscription on the block, worn as he did on his drawings, indicated on the back ‘The sea’.”
http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/collections/sculptures/la-femme-slave
JEAN-MARIE MENGUE [PRACTITIONER]


Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), CONVALESCENT, 1907? Around 1914?, Marble, H. 49 cm; L. 74.1 cm; P. 55.4 cm, S.1016, Practitioner: Jean-Marie Mengue, Auguste Rodin, Emile Matruchot, Neither signed nor dated
http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/collections/sculptures/convalescente
EMILE MATRUCHOT [PRACTITIONER]

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), THE DAY AND THE NIGHT, CONSOLATION, 1909, Marble, H. 74 cm; L. 112 cm; P. 57 cm, S.1207, Marble, 1909 , Practitioner: Léon-Ernest Drivier, Neither signed nor dated
“The anterior part marked with spikes may be indications of Rodin preparing a release or thinning of this part, which has not been realized. This marble a prioriunique seems unfinished: the basement points are very apparent, the bodies are not fully polished, the front part of the marble is marked at the tip. Nevertheless, as often, it is difficult to determine what was voluntary on the part of the artist; the correspondence with Léon-Ernest Drivier, the practitioner, indicates only a down payment in April and May 1909, while in August, Drivier, who had worked in his studio, had the University Street Marble moved to the Depot of marbles, where Rodin had a workshop since 1880. He receives the balance of any account at the end of August 1909.”
http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/collections/sculptures/le-jour-et-la-nuit
LEON-ERNEST DRIVIER [PRACTITIONER]

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), MOZART ALSO SAYS 18TH CENTURY BUST, 1911, Marble, H. 50.9 cm; L. 99.7 cm; P. 58 cm, S.1085, Practitioner: Aristide Rousaud , Signed and dated A. Rodin.
“This portrait is inspired by the head of the composer Gustav Mahler, whose Rodin had made the bronze bust in 1909. Presented at the Salon of the National Society of Fine Arts of the same year under the title Bust eighteenth century, it took, from 1914 , that of marble bust under the name of Mozart . As in many works of this period, the head emerges from a block of marble little sided, the sculptor playing the contrast of the surfaces thus created.”
http://www.musee-rodin.fr/fr/collections/sculptures/mozart-dit-aussi-buste-xviiieme-siecle
ARISTIDE ROUSAUD [PRACTITIONER]


Whether one of the above listed chromists [someone who copies the work of another] a.k.a. "Practicians" was one or more of those who reproduced by their own hands, fingers and fingerprints a reproduction in marble from Auguste Rodin's plaster of Napoleon, the facts support that it was not by Auguste Rodin.

To belabor a fact, reproductions versus original works of visual art are not interchangeable, much less the same.

This was understood by Auguste Rodin and the State of France. in 1916, Auguste Rodin specifically gave in his Will to the State of France upon his death the "right of reproduction" to his art. This "right of reproduction" is documented by the former Musee Rodin curator Monique Laurent on page 285 in the National Gallery of Art’s 1981 Rodin Rediscovered exhibition catalogue: "Let us indicate right away on this subject that he never fixed a precise limit to the number made. The only indication on this point occurs in the text of the donation of 1 April 1916, according to which "notwithstanding the transfer of artistic ownership authorized to the State of M. Rodin, the latter expressly reserves for himself the enjoyment, during his life, of the reproduction rights of those objects given by him, being well understood that the said right of reproduction will remain strictly personal to the donor who is forbidden to cede it for whatever reason to any third party. He will have, in consequence, the right to reproduce and to edit his works and to make impressions or mold for the usage which suits him. In the event that M. Rodin, exercising the right that he has thus reserved, contracts with an art editor for the reproduction in bronze of one or several works included in the present donation, the contract of publication cannot be made for a period of more than five years and the number of reproductions of each work shall not exceed ten."[FN 11] 
[underline mine]

Once again, under U.S. Copyright Law 106A the Rights of Attribution "shall not apply to any reproduction."[FN 12] 

To belabor what now should be obvious, under U.S. Copyright Law, reproductions are not attributable to Auguste Rodin.

Additionally, under US. Copyright Law - 101. Definitions, "a painting, drawing, print or sculpture, existing in a single copy, in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the case of a sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author."[FN 13]

Since Auguste Rodin did not carve this marble, he cannot be the author. If Auguste Rodin is not the author, it cannot be an original work of visual art i.e., sculpture attributable to him. 

To belabor a fact, lifetime reproductions, much less posthumous reproductions, are not attributable to Auguste Rodin, living or dead.

Yet, this nonsense was perpetuated in a prior published article noted earlier, when the staff writer wrote: "the borough announced that the sculpture had been authenticated by Jérôme Le Blay, an expert dispatched by the Rodin Museum in Paris."[FN 14]

On page 127 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, authenticate is defined as: "To prove the genuineness of [a thing]."[FN 15]

Jerome Le Blay, for a fee, has authenticated posthumous casts with counterfeit "A Rodin" signatures in bogus editions and falsely attributed them to a dead Auguste Rodin.

Here are just three examples of Jerome Le Blay accepting into his catalogue non-disclosed second-generation-removed forgeries with counterfeit "A Rodin" signatures in bogus editions falsely attributed to a dead Auguste Rodin [d 1917]:


  1. Auguste Rodin
    1840 - 1917
    BALZAC, ÉTUDE TYPE C, PETIT MODÈLE
    signed A. Rodin, inscribed © by Musée Rodin 1973 and inscribed with the foundry mark Georges Rudier Fondeur Paris; stamped A. Rodin (in the interior)
    bronze
    height: 75,1 cm; 29 1/2  in.
    Conceived circa 1892-93, this example cast in bronze in 1973.
    This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Critique de l'oeuvre sculpté d'Auguste Rodin being currently prepared by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2017-5592B

  2. Auguste Rodin
    1840 - 1917
    MASQUE D'HANAKO, ÉTUDE TYPE A, MOYEN MODÈLE (VARIANTE AVEC ARRIÈRE ÉVIDÉ)
    signed A. Rodin and inscribed with the foundry mark Alexis RUDIER Fondeur PARIS; stamped A.Rodin (in the interior)
    bronze
    height: 6 5/8 in. (without the base)
    Conceived between 1907 and 1908, this example cast between 1920 and 1925.
    This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Critique de l'oeuvre sculpté d'Auguste Rodin being currently prepared by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2016-4840B.

  3. Auguste Rodin
    1840 - 1917
    BALZAC, ÉTUDE TYPE C, PETIT MODÈLE
    Inscribed A. Rodin and with the foundry mark Georges Rudier Fondeur Paris, numbered 2 and dated © Musée Rodin 1964; stamped with the raised signature A. Rodin (on the interior)
    Bronze
    Height: 29 5/8 in.
    75.4 cm
    Conceived circa 1892-93; this example cast in 1964.
    This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Critique de l'oeuvre sculpté d'Auguste Rodin being currently prepared by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2007-1529B.




Auguste Rodin was 3 to 56 years dead when the above bronzes were cast between 1920 and 1973 and "inscribed" or "signed A Rodin" and/or numbered.

Auguste Rodin died in 1917. 

The dead don't sign, much less edition.

Therefore, Jérôme Le Blay would have the public believe and act on the belief that he is: "the author of the Catalogue Critique de l’Oeuvre Sculpté d’Auguste Rodin currently prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin. His connoisseurship and expertise in Impressionist and Modern Paintings as well as Modern Sculpture, are highly regarded by his peers and among collectors."[FN 16]

On page 661 of the Seventh Edition of Black's Law Dictionary, -forgery- is defined as: "the act of fraudulently making a false document or altering a real one to be used as if genuine."[FN 17]

These posthumous objects are problematic. The problem is a dead Auguste Rodin [d 1917] has never seen, much less approved, non-disclosed posthumous 2nd-generation-removed bronze forgeries with counterfeit "A Rodin" signatures in bogus editions, that Jerome Le Blay and others seems eager to falsely attribute as sculpture i.e., "works of art." 

The links to my prior published monographs documents the Musee Rodin's written admission that they cast in bronze from posthumous plaster reproductions instead from Auguste Rodin's original plasters as mandated by his 1916 Will:
  • http://garyarseneau.blogspot.com/2016/08/double-standard-forgeries-in-university.html
  • http://garyarseneau.blogspot.com/2016/11/texas-j-wayne-stark-galleries-fraud.html


Once again, under US. Copyright Law 106A the Rights of Attribution "shall not apply to any reproduction."[FN 18] Additionally, under U.S. Copyright Law - 101. Definitions, "a painting, drawing, print or sculpture, existing in a single copy, in a limited edition of 200 copies or fewer that are signed and consecutively numbered by the author, or, in the case of a sculpture, in multiple cast, carved, or fabricated sculptures of 200 or fewer that are consecutively numbered by the author and bear the signature or other identifying mark of the author."[FN 19]

Rhetorically, if Jerome Le Blay is willing, for a fee, to authentic non-disclosed 2nd-generation-removed bronze forgeries with counterfeit "A Rodin" signatures in bogus editions falsely attributed to a dead Auguste Rodin, would a lifetime and/or posthumous chromist-made marble reproduction be an exception?

Then to go from the ridiculous to the sublime, in a prior published article [noted earlier], the staff writer wrote: "Jennifer Thompson, head of the Art Museum’s department of European paintings, said the bust will be installed at the museum in Gallery 155, joining Rodin’s John the Baptist Preaching and Helmet-Maker’s Wife. All three works will be on display in time for the museum’s observance of the centenary of Rodin’s death, Nov. 17."[FN 20]

Auguste Rodin has never seen the non-disclosed posthumous forgeries with counterfeit "A Rodin" signatures titled John the Baptist Preaching and Helmet-Maker's Wife that the Philadelphia Museum of Art and their Department of European Paintings Director Jennifer Thompson are so eager to falsely attribute to a dead Auguste Rodin [d 1917]. The following from the museum's website confirms that devastating fact:

  • Saint John the Baptist Preaching
    Signed top of base between feet: A Rodin. Foundry mark rear of base to left: Alexis Rudier/Fondeur Paris
    Auguste Rodin, French, 1840 - 1917. Cast by the founder Alexis Rudier, Paris, 1874 - 1952.
    Made in France, Europe
    Modeled 1878-1880; cast 1925
    Bronze
    6 feet 7 inches × 21 3/4 inches × 38 1/2 inches (200.7 × 55.2 × 97.8 cm)
    http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/103423.html?mulR=394991223|2



  • The Helmet-Maker's Wife
    Signed right side of base under figure's left hand: A.Rodin. Foundry mark center rear of base: ALEXIS. RUDIER/foundeur. PARIS.
    Auguste Rodin, French, 1840 - 1917. Cast by the founder Alexis Rudier, Paris, 1874 - 1952.
    Made in France, Europe
    Modeled 1884-1887; cast 1925
    Bronze
    19 1/2 x 9 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches (49.5 x 23.5 x 26.7 cm)
    http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/103397.html?mulR=1476085078|1

In 1925, Auguste Rodin [d 1917] was 8 years dead. 

The dead don't sculpt, much less sign.


LAW, ETHICS AND THE VISUAL ARTS
On page 816-817 of Kluwer Law International’s published 1998 Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts, Third Edition by John Henry Merryman and Albert E. Elsen, they wrote about “Counterfeit Art.” Under the subtitle “Truth,” the authors wrote: “The most serious harm that good counterfeits do is to confuse and misdirect the search for valid learning.  The counterfeit  objects falsifies history and misdirects inquiry.”[FN 21]
  
Additionally, under the subtitle “Resource Allocation,” the authors wrote: “Museum and art historical resources are always limited. What gets acquired, displayed, conserved and studied is the result of a continuous process of triage, in which some objects can be favoured only at the expenses of others. Counterfeit objects distort the process.”[FN 22]  


Furthermore, under the subtitle “Fraud,” the authors wrote: “There remains the most obvious harm of all: counterfeit cultural objects are instruments of fraud. Most are created in order to deceive and defraud, but even “innocent” counterfeits can, and often will, be so used. The same considerations of justice and social order that make deliberate fraud of other kinds criminal apply equally to fraud through the medium of counterfeit art…”[FN 23]

CONCLUSION
The following news organizations, including but not limited to, published the alleged value of this non-disclosed chromist-made fake in marble, titled Napoleon, falsely attributed to Auguste Rodin:


Remember, since Auguste Rodin did not carve this marble, he cannot be the author. If Auguste Rodin is not the author, it cannot be an original work of visual art i.e., sculpture attributable to him. Therefore, to paraphrase a quote attributed to Oscar Wilde: "some know the price of everything but the value of nothing."

Caveat Emptor!


FOOTNOTES:

1. Copyright © 1999, By West Group, ISBN 0-314-22864-0


3.Ibid





8.  National Gallery of Art,Washington (October 26, 1981), ISBN-10: 0894680005, ISBN-13: 978-0894680007

9. Ibid

10. Ibid, [57. Steinberg, "Rodin," Other Criteria, 330; cf. William Tucker, "Rodin," The Language of Sculpture (London: Thames and Hudson, 1974, 30-31]

11. National Gallery of Art,Washington (October 26, 1981), ISBN-10: 0894680005, ISBN-13: 978-0894680007




15. Copyright © 1999, By West Group, ISBN 0-314-22864-0


17. Copyright © 1999, By West Group, ISBN 0-314-22864-0



20. http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/arts/rodin-bust-of-napolean-found-in-n-j-town-hall-20171012.html

21 © Kluwer Law International 1998, ISBN: 90-411-0697-9

22. Ibid

23. Ibid

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