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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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Rodin's sculpture of Eve can be found in The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia. This bronze sculpture, although modelled in 1881, was not cast until 1925 by the Alexis foundry in Paris. Originally Rodin wanted to display life-size figures of Adam and Eve on either side of his monumental work, The Gates of Hell, a 6-meter by 4-meter doorway depicting a scene from Dante's Inferno.

Although he changed his mind we must wonder if his original intention was to say that both Adam and Eve would have gone to hell as punishment for the original sin. He had problems with his sculpture for Adam and found himself starting again several times. Whilst he was sculpting eve, he was struggling to get the lines correct. It was some time before he discovered that his sitter that he was modelling from was pregnant, and his problem was because her body shape was changing. Eventually she stopped sitting for Rodin, and he decided not to continue with the work and left it in a very rough form.

The sculpture remained incomplete until he decided that he was sufficiently confident to show and cast the work in its incomplete format. Should we read any significance into Eve's incomplete format? Does this represent Eve being an incomplete woman in the eyes of God after the original sin? The sculpture was left incomplete purely because as Rodin states "the new model found the studio too cold and stopped coming." Collaborating with a different model he did sculpt a smaller version of eve that when completed showed a much smoother finish and more feminine lines.

Eve is shown with her head facing down and her arms folded protectively over her torso. She is not depicted as the triumphant mother of man but as if she is afraid or ashamed of her actions that will lead to man being created with imperfections. Does she represent evil for these actions or is she purely expressing how frail she is and that really, she is like us, only human and not perfect. The pose of Eve is one that reminds us of those Michelangelo used. Rodin was inspired by Michelangelo; he admired his depiction of the human form. Although originally Rodin was shunned by official academies in later life he was compared to Michelangelo and without a doubt many of today's artists have been influenced by him.