The present work, known in its final state as L’Abandon, can trace its origin to the 1888 plaster by Claudel known as Sakountala. Based on the eponymous Indian legend of the 5th century in which the heroine loses the affection of her beloved prince, only to regain it once more, the plaster was awarded an honorable mention at the Salon that same year. In fact, Sakountala most likely inspired Rodin and his famous composition of the following year, L’Eternelle idole.
Sakountala was then to undergo two transformations. At the request of her patroness Countess Maigret, in 1905 Claudel re-worked Sakountala in marble. Thus the composition became known as Vertumne et Pomone, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. A bronze version in two sizes soon followed, assuming the title L’Abandon, and cast by Eugène Blot. The present work is from the grande dimension, of which 18 examples were cast although twenty-five were initially planned.
On the occasion of the Claudel retrospective held at the Musée Rodin in 1951, the artist’s brother Paul Claudel wrote of L’Abandon:
"The first is emotion, in a passionate embrace with imagination… If one compares Rodin’s The Kiss with the first work by my sister, which we may call Abandonment. In the former, the man has sat down at the woman’s table, so to speak. He has sat down to take best advantage of her. He has gone after her with both hands, and she does her best, as the Americans say, to deliver the goods. In my sister’s group, spirit is all, with the man kneeling, all desire, his face lifted; he yearns, embraced before he even dares seize that wondrous being, that sacred flesh that has fallen to him from a higher level. She gives in, blind, mute, heavy; she gives in to this weight that is love; one arm hangs, detached like a tree branch exhausted by its fruit; the other covers her breasts and protects that heart, the supreme sanctuary of virginity. It is impossible to see anything at once more passionate and more chaste. And how it all trembles, right down to the most secret frissons of the soul and the skin, with ineffable life! The second before contact". (Paul Claudel, July 1951, Oeuvres en prose, Paris, 1965).
Conceived in terracotta in 1886, the present work was subsequently cast in plaster in 1887 and carved in marble in 1905. In 1905 Claudel also had two sizes cast in bronze; the present work is an example of the larger version of which 18 were cast between 1905 and 1937. | © Sotheby’s
Questo gruppo, conosciuto nel suo stato finale come L'Abbandono, può tracciare la sua origine nel intonaco del 1888 della Claudel, conosciuto come Sakountala.
Basato sulla omonima leggenda indiana del V° secolo che narra le vicende della ninfa Sakuntala alla ricerca dell’amato sposo scomparso per un sortilegio, questo gruppo scultoreo fruttò alla Claudel il primo grande riconoscimento pubblico.
Nel 1905, su richiesta della contessa Maigret, Claudel ha ri-lavorato in marmo la Sakountala, dandole il titolo L'Abandon.