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The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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17th November 2003 - Auguste Rodin

The influential French sculptor Auguste Rodin died on this day in 1917.

Rodin was the son of a clerk in the police force. He and Whistler had possibly met as fellow students at the Ecole Impériale du Dessin et de Mathématique in 1855, and in later years the rue de Varenne where Rodin had his studio was adjacent to the rue du Bac where Whistler lived. Rodin was among those who would attend Whistler's regular Sunday afternoon gatherings in Paris.

Whistler was partly responsible for raising Rodin's artistic profile in Britain. As President of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, Whistler had invited the French sculptor to display some of his work at the Society's 1898 exhibition. This did not occur without some small difficulties however: some of the pieces proposed by Rodin did not find favour with Whistler, and there was also some damage sustained by some of the works whilst in transit.

After Whistler's death in 1903, largely due to the efforts of Albert Ludovici, Rodin became President of the ISSPG. In January 1904, at the first exhibition of the Society under Rodin's Presidency, Whistler was represented by a number of fine works; Rodin himself was also well represented in the show.

The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, holds a collection of drawings, dry points and etchings by Rodin. Also in the collection is a lithographed portrait of the Frenchman by William Michael Rothenstein, which may be viewed by clicking here.

For further information on Whistler, Rodin and the ISSPG, see Joy Newton and Margaret MacDonald, "Whistler, Rodin and the 'International'" in Gazette Des Beaux-Arts, 24 May 1984, pp. 115-23.