Eternal Idol Auguste Rodin Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Eternal Idol is a sculpture by French artist, Augustine Rodin, which he did around 1890 to 1893. This sculpture, like many of Rodin's works, was part of The Gates of Hell. Rodin took sections of his most famous artwork (The Gates of Hell) and redid them as individual pieces.

Eternal Idol has several iterations, including a bronze sculpture he did in 1891 and a marble one commissioned in 1893 by Eugéne Carriére, a friend and fellow painter. Museé Rodin and Maryhill Museum have plaster versions of the sculpture as well.

Rodin focused on the natural form when creating his sculptures, and this piece is a perfect depiction of that element. Eternal Idol features a nude couple. The woman is kneeling, with her hands behind her with the right one touching her toes. She is a bit elevated on the rock she is kneeling on. The man is kneeling in front of her, but at a lower position, such that the woman's head is towering over him. His head is buried between her breasts, and his arms are clasped behind him.

Rodin was big on adding emotion to his sculptures, and he keeps up with the style in this one. The man's face is harder to see, but he seems to be kissing the woman's torso. His expression is relaxed and content. The woman has a tender look on her face as she gazes down on her companion. There is a feeling of great intimacy between the two. Besides the emotion, the form of the two subjects is presented in exceptional detail. Rodin tries to show as much as possible from the woman's smoothly-tied hair to the man's muscled arms and back.

Eternal Idol has many interpretations, which is what Rodin's art was all about. From their expressions, the two subjects appear to be lovers. Experts speculate that the piece sourced inspiration from another sculpture called Sakuntala, which Camille Claudel modelled for. One interpretation is the close relationship that Augustine had with Camille. The man in the sculpture is enamoured with the woman and seems lost in helpless admiration. It looks like a mixture of love and lust. With his hands at the back, the position depicts submission. The positioning of the woman above the man plays into this theme. Eternal Idol is one of the artworks by Rodin that blends impressionism and symbolism.