This is the title of a plaster
work by Rodin
. I believe the original casting
resides at the Rodin museum in Paris
. I was fortunate enough to see a travelling exhibit on Rodin while I was in Venice
recently, and of all the pieces on display, the two that moved me the most were this one and The Kiss
. I can't explain it. It's a purely emotional response to art.
The piece itself is essentially just as the title describes it - a female form (the caryatid) supine, holding above her (and visibly suffering from) a large square block of stone. It speaks of futility, depression, and loss; the loss of one bearing a burden that is all the more onerous for it having been easy to bear in the past. Whether the burden is heavier or the bearer is weakened, there is an air of resigned acceptance to the pose.
Like most of Rodin's works, this was originally sculpted in plaster of Paris. Afterwards, a mold was taken of the plaster using clay. This clay was fired to produce a mold for the pouring of bronze into the shape of the sculpture. New castings made from Rodin's plasters (or molds taken from original bronzes) are usually aged or weathered using flame and caustics. One poster for the exhibit I saw was exquisite; it showed a new casting of The Kiss in preparation. Around the embracing figures, flames were dancing in orange and yellow - the head of the torch being used was just visible at the bottom. Because of the angle of application, the flames were rising up from around and behind the figures, framing them. The metaphor for passion notwithstanding, it was an extremely powerful shot.