Early in his career, Auguste Rodin found work in the Paris atelier of ornamental sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse modeling figures for interior schemes and decorative objects. He remained in Carrier-Belleuse’s employ from 1864 to 1872; four years later, he made his first journey to Italy. There he found inspiration in the expressive physicality of Michelangelo’s work, and he returned with a transformed vision of the human figure, seen in the highly naturalistic male nude, The Age of Bronze, 1876 (DIA 69.304). His new approach is also seen in the monumental proportions and elastic postures of the titans he modeled for Carrier-Belleuse’s polychrome vase. Seated on a plinth, these pre-Olympian gods twist and strain under the weight of the wide-mouthed urn that they support on their shoulders. Garlanded with oak leaves and bright blue skinks, this is one of only two early polychrome versions of the vase known to survive intact.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Auguste Rodin, French, 1840-1917
Designer Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, French, 1824-1887
  • Vase of the Titans
Date between 1877 and 1879
Medium Glazed polychromed terracotta
Dimensions Overall: 28 3/8 × 19 3/4 × 19 3/4 inches (72.1 × 50.2 × 50.2 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund
Accession Number 2003.32
Department European Sculpture and Dec Arts
On View Modern C235, Level 2 (see map)
David and Constance Yates (New York, New York, USA);
2003-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Revue de L'Art no. 116, p. 77 (fig. 1).

Choix de sculptures: XVII-XX Siècles, Andre Lemaire and Alberic Froissart, Dealer's Catalogue. Nov.-Dec. 2006, pp. 48-51.

Darr, Alan. P. and Brian Gallagher. "Recent acquisitions (2000-2006) of European sculpture and decorative arts at The Detroit Institute of Arts." The Burlington Magazine 149, no. 1251 (June 2007): p. 454, pl. XVIII (ill.).

Darr, Alan P. "Two newly acquired sculptures by Rude and Rodin in the Detroit Institute of Arts." In La Sculpture en Occident: Etudes offertes à Jean-René Gaborit, ed. G. Bresc-Bautier, F. Baron and P.-Y. Le Pogam. Paris, 2007, pp. 279-283.

Bulletin of the DIA: Notable Acquisitions, 2000–2015 89, no. 1/4 (2015): p. 25 (ill.).