Heritage Auctions embraces Rodin in European art sale Dec. 7 

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917), ‘Éternel printemps,’ bronze with brown-black patina,
25 7/8 x 33¼ x 15¾ inches. Estimate: $400,000-$600,000. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – Leading Heritage Auctions’ Fine European Art Auction on Friday, Dec. 7, is Auguste Rodin’s monumental Éternel printemps (est. $400,000-$600,000). Depicting two lovers in a passionate embrace, this magnificent bronze is a star within a constellation of masterworks from the likes of William Adolphe Bouguereau, Gerald Brockhurst and Louis Valtat. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Cast between 1899 and 1901, Éternel printemps is one of just 58-recorded Ferdinand Barbedienne casts of the celebrated sculpture in its second state, first reduction. “The dazzling play of light on the lovers’ limbs accentuates the effect of movement, which was of paramount importance to Rodin,” said Heritage’s European art specialist Marianne Berardi.

“It would be no exaggeration to say this bronze is a page out of Rodin’s own biography. At the time he conceived it, the sculptor had fallen head over heels in love with the young sculptor Camille Claudel. She drove him wild and this bronze is a particular testament to that,” Berardi said.

The sale also features other notable bronzes including another Rodin, Homme assis, etude B (est. $10,000-$15,000), in which Rodin gave full rein to the sensual manipulation of clay ultimately cast into bronze.

In bold contrast to Rodin’s work is Gerhard Marcks’ Amazon (est. $10,000-$15,000), which emerged out of the modernist idiom of the Bauhaus with its smooth planes and minimalist surface treatment. Marcks’ figure presents the ancient women warrior as a figure whose weapons in the 20th century may be more cerebral than physical, by accentuating her stare over her physicality.

In addition, Aristide Maillol’s Petit torso, from 1910 (est. $30,000-$50,000), is a sculpture that derives its motif from the antique but conceives its form as simplified geometries, which gives it a modern appearance.

English painter Gerald Brockhurst’s alluring 1937 portrait of actress Merle Oberon (below) is another high point of the auction (est. $40,000-$60,000). Oberon’s exotic beauty was her stepping-stone to a successful film career including her iconic role as Cathy in Wuthering Heights, opposite Sir Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff. “The painting comes to Heritage directly from the artist’s family,” European art specialist Janell Snape stresses, adding, “What a pleasure it is to include such a masterful portrait in our sale; a great combination of classic Hollywood glamour and stunning technique.”

Gerald L. Brockhurst (British, 1890-1978), ‘Merle Oberon,’ 1937, oil on canvas,
33¾ x 29 inches. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000. Heritage Auctions image

French 20th-century painting makes a strong appearance in the auction. Louis Valtat’s Mère et enfants (est. $30,000-$50,000) beautifully demonstrates Valtat’s mastery of formalist experiments of the avant-garde, while retaining traditional concepts of figuration and representation. Jules Pascin’s sensitive Fille à la mandoline (est. $20,000-$30,000) dates from the artist’s early Parisian period and shows a strong indebtedness to Matisse and the Fauves. Othon Coubine’s powerful Femme Nue (est. $10,000-$15,000), Jean Jansem’s monumental Exercise au tabouret (below; est. $15,000-$25,000), and Jean-Pierre Cassigneul’s colorful bouquet of tulips on a window ledge titled Fleurs, (est. $12,000-$18,000) are other notable French offerings.

Jean Jansem (French, 1920-2013), ‘Exercice au tabouret,’ 1969, oil on canvas,
38½ x 51½ inches. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000. Heritage Auctions image

A handsome group of academic landscapes and genre scenes round out the sale with noteworthy examples such as William Adolphe Bouguereau’s La leçon de flute(est. $200,000-$300,000), Tito Conti’s A demure beauty (est. $10,000-$15,000), Alexander Daiwaille’s lush landscape with cattle (est. $8,000-$12,000) and James Walsham Baldock’s sporting picture (est. $10,000-$15,000).