French Sculpture Census

crédits photo : Brad Flowers/Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
© artiste : Fair Use (Section 107, Copyright Act, 1976) | public domain

RODIN, Auguste
Paris 1840 - Meudon, Hauts-de-Seine 1917

MORLON, Alexandre ou Alexandre-Pierre
Mâcon, Saône-et-Loire 1878 - ? 1951

Le Songe de la Vie ou Colonne Fenaille
The Dream of Life or Fenaille Column [Museum's Title: The Poet and the Contemplative Life]

modèle de 1897

182 x 55,24 x 58,42
signé sur la base à droite : A. Rodin

N° d'inv. : 1985.R.64
Credit Line : Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

Dallas, Texas, Dallas Museum of Art


  • 1985, Collection Wendy et Emery Reves


  • Museum's website, 6 May 2010
  • 1985 [Dallas Reves]
    The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Dallas Museum of Art, 1985, p. 138-139, repr.
  • 1995 Brettell
    Richard R. Brettell, Impressionnist Paintings and Sculptures from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, Seattle, Marquand Books, 1997, p. 122-123, repr.
  • 2007 Le Normand-Romain (français)
    Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, avec la collaboration d'Hélène Marraud et Diane Tytgat, introductions par Dr. Ruth Butler et Mr. Régis Cusinberche, Les Bronzes de Rodin. Catalogue des œuvres au Musée Rodin, 2 volumes, Paris, Musée Rodin / Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2007, œuvre non listée dans ce catalogue mais citée p. 154, 367, 457, 551, 672
  • 2007 Le Normand-Romain (English)
    Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, with the collaboration of Hélène Marraud and Diane Tytgat, introductions by Dr. Ruth Butler and Mr. Régis Cusinberche, The Bronzes of Rodin. Catalogue of works in the Musée Rodin, 2 volumes, English version, Paris, Musée Rodin / Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2007, work not listed in this catalogue but mentioned p. 154, 367, 457, 551, 672
  • 2012 Le Normand-Romain
    Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, "Rodin : découvertes à Dallas", Revue de l'Art, n° 177, 2012-3, p. 57-63


  • 1897 Paris
    Salon de la Société nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1897, n° 126
  • 1900 Paris
    Rodin, Paris, pavillon de l'Alma, 1900, n° 164, sous le titre Les Saisons


Museum's website, 6 May 2010:
Rodin aspired to be, and almost succeeded in becoming, the Michelangelo of modern sculpture. No single figure in the 19th century can match the sheer range, ambition, and scale of his achievement, and no true history of European sculpture could omit him. Almost as if to challenge Baudelaire's famous essay, "Why Sculpture is Boring," written for his review of the 1846 Salon (Baudelaire 1961, 943-45), Rodin reinvigorated figural sculpture just as the Impressionists were giving new life to the pictorial arts in France. Nevertheless, because of the traditionalism and craft-based production of sculpture, Rodin's art has more (and more obvious) debts to Renaissance and baroque art than does the painting of the Impressionists and their followers. Throughout his long life, Rodin produced work for the official Salon, and the Reves marble, the most important work by Rodin in a public collection in Texas, is among the most enigmatic of these works. "The Poet and the Contemplative Life" was commissioned from Rodin by Maurice Fenaille and was completed in 1896. It was included both in the Salon of 1897 and in the major Rodin exhibition held on the place d'Alma during the 1900 Paris World's Fair. Like the model for "Monument to Labor" (Musée Rodin, Meudon), the "Gates of Hell" (Musée Rodin, Paris), and the monumental sculptural groups dedicated to Claude Lorrain and Victor Hugo, the Reves marble combines a large number of human figures with allegorical elements, all of which seem to spring from architecture. This fusion of sculpture and architecture characterized Rodin's late career and has been linked to contemporary currents in European Symbolism. In fact, the roots of Rodin's fantasies go back further to Baroque sculpture. Who is the poet whose mournful disembodied head rests atop the chaste capital on this riotous figural column? In all probability, the head is a symbol of "poetry" rather than a representation of a particular poet, although many of Rodin's contemporaries must have associated the work's appearance in 1897 with the death of Stéphane Mallarmé in 1896. The head is reminiscent of an earlier Rodin marble, entitled "Thought" (Musée Rodin, Paris), which was modeled on the well-known features of Camille Claudel, Rodin's model, mistress, student, colleague, and assistant. If the head signifies "poetry" as an intellectual or cerebral, rather than sensual, activity, Rodin contrasts this idea with the riot of human figures, symbols, passions, and allegorical forms that crowd together in the column below. In his insistence on separating the "body" of the column from the "head" by means of a stylized capital, Rodin suggests that poetry resides in the head itself, not in the body on which it rests, as a sculpture rests on a base. The emblem of the disembodied head had been exploited in similar "literary" contexts by Odilon Redon, and Rodin's melancholic head has many affinities with the pictorial prototypes produced by the younger artist. "Impressionist Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection," page 123