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.