top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

€700,000 Rodin sculpture found in a storage box

The master sculptor's 1885 work, that once sat in a Pau apartment, has been authenticated and valued by experts

A Rodin sculpture discovered by chance in a furniture storage unit has been unveiled in Pau.

The 72cm high plasterwork of a naked, muscular man carrying a young woman bears the sculptor’s engraved signature and was a preparatory work for Rodin’s bronze sculpture "I am beautiful".

For years, the small statue on a pedestal was displayed in the apartment of an old lady in the town, and later in her retirement home room in the Basque Country, where she ended her days.

It went unnoticed until the death of its owner in 2013, when it was spotted in a box in furniture storage in Biarritz.

Patrice Carrère, the auctioneer and head of the Gestas & Carrère auction house who made the discovery, was dumbstruck: "This is a moment that will remain engraved in my memory and career," he said.

He remembers his surprise when he found himself face to face with the work: "My first thought was: 'No it is not true, it is not possible!'” he said. “The plaster has traces of the master’s fingerprints and nails.”

It took experts four months to authenticate the work, believed to have been created in 1885 and which they value at €700,000.

How is it that no one noticed such an important piece before? "It is very dusty and dirty so it doesn’t catch the eye,” said Rodin specialist Elisabeth Maréchaux. “And you can’t spot the signature easily - you have to look hard to see it. People might have presumed it was a plaster reproduction of a sculpture by Rodin."

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Research will now begin into the sculpture’s back story. "We have a unique piece, an unknown piece that probably has a story that we will discover little by little," says Jérôme Le Blay, founding member of the Auguste Rodin Committee.

"Here at the Rodin Committee, every year we discover two or three pieces, mostly from French private collections, that allow us to gain further knowledge of Rodin.”

This latest Rodin find has already been classified a "national treasure" by the Ministry of Culture, which prevents it from leaving France for 30 months.

After the death of its owner, some indirect heirs made themselves known and they will decide the sculpture’s fate.

Meanwhile, it is being exhibited this afternoon at the Gestas & Carrère Pau sales office.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now