Rodin modeled more than two hundred figures inspired by Dante’s Inferno for his massive sculptural project that came to be known as the Gates of Hell (1880–c. 1890). This celebrated figural group, derived from that work, was carved for the painter Eugène Carrière, who reluctantly lent it to the watershed 1900 Rodin retrospective exhibition. There it was so enthusiastically received that Rodin produced a second marble of the figures. The title is puzzling. Women were often described as “idols” in nineteenth-century poetry; the woman here may be only an ideal, in spite of her cool, fleshly presence. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote: “a mysterious greatness emanates from this group. . . . One doesn’t dare assign a meaning to it. . . . A heaven is near, but is not yet attained; a hell is near, and not yet forgotten.”
The Walking Man (French: L’homme qui marche) is a bronze sculpture by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It was created by Rodin during 1877 and 1878.
Rodin deemed head and arms superfluous to this sculpture.
IRIS, MESSENGER OF THE GODS
Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Gallery Text from Rodin museum
The origin of Iris can be traced to the enlargement of a study for the allegorical figure intended to crown the second project for the Monument to Victor Hugo (1897), in which the poet is portrayed standing, with the figure placed in a plunging position. It was then completed by a stretched right arm, a head and a pair of wings.
Deprived of its head and one of its arms to concentrate better on the basic essentials, with legs spread apart and the sex opened in front of the viewer, Iris, Messenger of the Gods recalls to a certain extent The Origin of the World by Courbet (1866, Musée d’Orsay). Auguste Rodin may have had an opportunity to see it through Edmond de Goncourt who saw the painting himself on 29 June 1889, during a period when he used to frequent Rodin, who he mentioned on several occasions in the Journal. Rodin’s decision to present Iris vertically, as if suspended in space, and in an almost frontal position, has turned this figure into a strong and triumphant image of femininity, a promise of pleasure and life but also of mystery.