Large Clenched Left Hand
Rodin was fascinated by the expressive capabilities of hands. He modeled hundreds of them, using them both as independent sculptures and as parts of more complex pieces. By carefully modeling their musculature, proportion, texture, and balance, he demonstrated that hands could convey profound emotion, from anger and despair to compassion and tenderness. When Rodin composed a new figure, he often experimented by attaching to it hands made for earlier pieces in order to explore the possibilities the new combinations might reveal. This working method also encouraged Rodin’s interest in the fragment and also inspired his exploration of the notion that figurative sculpture need not depend on a whole figure to communicate meaning.
Large Clenched Left Hand has fascinated hand surgeons for decades. A few years ago, The Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University collaborated with a hand surgeon at Stanford’s Medical School to examine what could be diagnosed from Rodin’s hands.
This bronze was modeled about 1885 and is a bit more than 18 inches tall. This cast is currently on view at the Harnett Museum of Art at the University of Richmond.