The Clay Beneath his Hands

His models had usually sat for him before, so they knew that their skin would be cold and covered in goose pimples for hours while he worked. Rodin had a stove for heat in his studio but often forgot to add chunks of coal from the bucket, and the grey space quickly turned icy. His own teeth might be chattering, the thick black hair on his arms raised, the tip of his long nose red and dripping, but he noticed nothing but the model’s body and the clay beneath his hands.

He took so many of the models as lovers, so where the cold couldn’t reach him in his thoughts the forms of their bodies did. Maybe as he smoothed his rough hands over the soft, pliant skin on their bare bodies, molding them into the images he saw when he closed his eyes, he found he had to stop. The moment must be seized and possessed.

His passion for the human form has made his sculptures  immortal. If you were to place a palm over one of the figures’  foreheads, or cup a hand underneath a breast or thigh, you might feel warmth permeating beneath the cold marble.

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8 thoughts on “The Clay Beneath his Hands

  1. Thanks, Elizabeth! It’s my comfort zone, not unlike writing about Alaska. I think I’m slowly finding my concentration. Maybe an art history minor is in my near future. 🙂

  2. oh, just beautiful. I have always loved Rodin. When I was 13, I was given a biography of him as an art prize at my school, and I always blessed that teacher who thought to choose this as my award. i felt extravagantly smiled upon. your words here really evoke the man and his passions. thank you for taking me back to the hours and hours I spent in that book, lost in the stories and the plates of his art. i saw his work in person once, when i visited paris with my parents. i was still in my teens, so there is myth in the memory.

  3. Angella,

    This comment is a gift to me. I love hearing stories about a first and formulative experience with art. Your stories in particular are always so perfect. Thank you for this!!!

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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