Danaid by Rodin (1886; 1902)

This beautiful statue, usually on view at the Rodin Museum in Paris, was carved by Rodin out of white marble. The subject is Danaid, one of the 50 daughters of Danaus who all killed their 50 bridegrooms on their wedding night and were condemned to draw water in a sieve for eternity…

The statue is obviously drawn from a gorgeous piece of flawless marble; the beauty of the submissive or surrendered pose of the nymph allowed Rodin to carve the smooth “skin” of the back and the tendrils of hair, as well as use Michelangelo’s technique of leaving the statue embedded within the rock, calling attention to the difference between its natural state and the carved figure emerging from it.

The erotic quality of the pose and the naked state of the figure counteract the despair and sadness of the woman — the observer is taken out of a subjective state in order to appreciate, objectively, the sexuality of Rodin’s study.

As it is usually placed in an upstairs room, seen in the natural light of the huge windows there, I find the sculture evokes both an appreciation of its beauty and a feeling of poignancy for the woman embedded in the rock.

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