Rodin’s calculated use of non finito carving lends gravitas to a key moment in a tale from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. When the nymph Eurydice dies, her husband, the poet and lyre player Orpheus, descends to Hades to retrieve her. Orpheus convinces Pluto to allow Eurydice to follow him back to earth, provided that he not look at her until they reach the upper world. At the last moment, however, he looks back, and she vanishes forever into the underworld, here represented by the rough-hewn block of marble. Eurydice’s undefined hair remains at one with the block, in contrast to Orpheus’s fully modeled body, heightening the sense of risk in this moment of transformation.
Signature: Signed and dated (on left edge of background rock): A. Rodin/1893
Charles T. Yerkes (until 1910; sale, American Art Association, New York, January 22, 1910, no. 251); [ sale, American Art Association , New York, April 11–13, 1910, no. 251; sold to Ryan ] ; Thomas Fortune Ryan , New York (in 1910; to MMA)