This daring composition is sometimes also known as Sacrificial Victim. The writer Jules Renard confided: “That little thing, no bigger than my hand, that is called The Eternal Idol; a man, vanquished, his arms behind his back, kisses a woman under the breasts, his lips against her skin, and the woman seems overcome with sadness. I cannot easily detach myself from that.”
Standing proudly, curiously indifferent, the woman looks down on the man bent in front of her. Are the arms held behind his back a sign of subservience, or of deep respect? The artist’s contemporaries saw in this work a skilfully formed image of the divine frailty of man faced with the object of his desire. The woman seems to feel both benevolence and disdain. It is possible that the subject reflects Rodin’s feelings for Camille Claudel, as their love affair was then at its height.
Fascinated by the piece, between 1960 and 1963 Montreal dealer Max Stern of the Dominion Gallery would order four posthumous casts of it from the Musée Rodin in Paris. In accordance with the sculptor’s moral right, authorized casts are limited to twelve in number. This one bears the number 7.