Conceived circa 1877-78.
The present work was cast by the Georges Rudier foundry in 1960. The model was cast in an edition of at least 2 by the Alexis Rudier foundry in 1927 and 1949, and a further edition of 11 by the Georges Rudier foundry between 1960 and 1965.
Rodin sculpted hands more than he did any other part of the body. He used them to convey powerful emotions, both on their own and when grouped with other sculptures. Gustave Kahn, a contemporary, described him as “the sculptor of hands, of furious, clenched, angered, damned hands.” In 1912 Rodin put on an exhibition solely made up of hands. He defended himself against the barrage of criticism by saying:
“Have not the public and critics who serve the public reproached me enough for exhibiting simple parts of the human body?... Can they not imagine that an artist must apply himself to giving as much expression to a hand or a torso as to a face and that it was logical for an artist to exhibit an arm rather than a bust arbitrarily deprived by tradition of arms, legs, and abdomen? Expression and proportion, the ends are there. The means are modeling... It is by modeling that the flesh lives, vibrates, struggles and suffers.”