August Rodin and Giovanni da Bologna
I Am Beautiful by August Rodin and Abduction of the Sabine by Giovanni da Bologna are sculptures by two of the greatest sculptures. Both are about a beautiful woman in the clutches of a man. I Am Beautiful by Rodin is a sculpture that displays the passion of a young couple with an incredible amount of passion. The young woman that is held in a strong embrace was inspired by Camille Claudel an eighteen year old sculpture who Rodin met while in his forties. The sculpture displays two young lovers at their physical peak. The male’s body exhibits an muscular physique. His head is thrown back in ecstasy and she is crouched on his chest. They are both well formed nudes. Abduction of the Sabine by Bologna depicts the abduction of a Sabine woman from her husband which was inspired by the legend of the rape or kidnapping of the Sabine women by the men of the newly formed city of Rome. As with I Am Beautiful, the bodies of all three subjects are well formed yet the abductor is obviously younger than the husband who is crouching in fear while he takes his young wife. The abductor, with his back to the front of the sculpture, is strong and holds the struggling woman up into the air with ease. Both husband and wife are looking at each other. Her countenance is fearful and is imploring her husband to rescue her. The subjects of Abduction of the Sabine are also nudes.
The medium of I Am Beautiful is bronze. Rodin probably chose it because of the durability and strength. He would want this to be symbolic of the strength of the passion of a couple when their love and lust is at the beginning of their relationship. In fact it is so strong that it can endure anything that society throws at it. It is also a dark colored metal and this shows the darker side of passion. While it is pleasurable, it is also a painful time because of the fear of losing something so intense. The color of the bronze symbolizes this idea. Abduction of the Sabine by Bologna is made of marble. It too is strong and durable. Marble is a common medium in Roman and Greek art and architecture. The strength of the marble is symbolic of the determination of the young Roman abductor to obtain a wife and produce a male child. Even though marble is strong, it can be broken like the love between the husband and his wife like the legend.
Abduction of the Sabine, sculpted in fifteen eighty three, is from the Mannerism Period which was at the end of the Italian Renaissance. It was an intellectual movement which goes against the manner of nature in favor of emotion and distortion. The emotion of the abducted woman is complete horror. While reflecting the Classical subjects, it offsets the balance by placing both of the larger subjects at the bottom of the statue and the smaller one on the top. I Am Beautiful, sculpted in eighteen eighty-two, is thought to be from the Modernist Period. Rodin is thought to be one of the first sculptures of that era. I Am Beautiful breaks from the traditional form, as work from the Modernist time do, by having the young woman crouching in an unnatural pose on the chest of the male subject.
Both I Am Beautiful and Abduction of the Sabine contain the formal element of motion. Each of the sculptures capture a moment when movement would have been evident in the situation. It would be impossible for the subjects of I Am Beautiful to be in their positions for a long period of time, therefore, motion would have had to have happened right before the action of the male holding the crouching woman on his chest and there would be movement within seconds after the moment captured. In Abduction of the Sabine, The female would be struggling to fend off her abductor, while her husband would be trying to retrieve his wife. Struggle would be a necessity on the situation and movement would be implied. I Am Beautiful also contains the formal element of mass. Because Rodin chose bronze as his medium, it is going to have weight. The metal is heavy because the molecules are close together creating a dense material. In Abduction of the Sabine, Rodin uses lines. The ribs of the Sabine husband are clearly defined and there are lines that move horizontally across his abdomen. There are also brown lines that run down the back of the Roman abductor.
I chose these sculptures because I was intrigued with the subjects. The fine line between grasping and embracing is an interesting concept. I find I Am Beautiful beautiful and interesting because it captures the spontaneity of two lovers. It is definitely not something that two people would see or do every day, but only in a moment of passion would two lovers express themselves in this way. I feel that it truly shows how people in the late eighteen hundreds who were dealing with a changing of society because of all of the new technologies bursting onto the scene, were feeling more freedom of expressing themselves. I suppose that some might be disgusted by the two lovers, but they invoke a feeling of acceptance and freedom in me because I feel that these two lovers should not have to be inhibited with each other. However, I do favor Abduction of the Sabine. I am a lover of legends and I enjoy the portrayal of this ancient story. I see it having a deeper meaning because even though the husband and wife are obviously in love, he is not defending his wife and therefore, unworthy of her devotion. It is also proof that humans will eventually adjust and have the ability to love more than one person. There was much instability in the world during the time of Mannerism and this statue is an outlet for Bologna to depict instability in another time to represent it in the time in which he lived. The thing that strikes me most about the statue is that the wife is reaching out toward her husband. That evokes the emotion of longing because I see it as her statement of reaching out and not having anything to clasp.
Delahunt, Michael. Artlex.com. 8, November 2008 http://www.artlex.com/