Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917)
L. of hand at left: 2 in. (5.1 cm); at right: 2 3/8 in. (6 cm)
Gift of the sculptor, 1912 (12.12.18,.17)
Rodin was fascinated by the expressive possibilities of hands: hands gesturing in anguish as in The Burghers of Calais, small studies of hands pulsing with life, giant enigmatic hands sufficient unto themselves. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke (18751926), who was for a time Rodin's secretary, wrote: "There are among the works of Rodin's hands, single small hands, which without belonging to a body, are alive. Hands that rise, irritated and in wrath; hands whose five bristling fingers seem to bark like the five jaws of a dog of Hell."