Rodin Marble Work Fetches $20 Million

NEW YORK.- Auguste Rodin's "Eternal springtime" marble sculpture of lovers fetched more than $20 million at auction Monday, a record for the French sculptor, at Sotheby's in New York.

The work -- conceived by Rodin in 1884 and sculpted in 1901-1903 -- is just 31.5 inches wide by 26.25 inches tall (80 by 66.7 centimeters).

Its $20.41 million sale price more than doubled auctioneers's expectations of at least $8 million.

Cut from a single stone slab, the statue is the fifth of 10 known carvings of the subject in marble.

The prior record for a Rodin sculpture was $18.97 million for "Eve, grand modele-version sans rocher," auctioned in May 2008.

Another big-ticket item of the night was the painting "Sous-bois" (1905) by Fauvist French painter Maurice de Vlaminck. It sold for $16.38 million, within the range Sotheby's expected.

And Paul Signac's "Maisons du Port, Saint-Tropez" brought $10.66 million, also in line the auctioneer's estimates.

A statue of Hitler on his knees was auctioned Sunday for $17.2 million, a record for a work by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The wax and resin statue entitled simply "Him" had been expected to fetch between $10 million and $15 million at the auction by Christie's.

The previous record for a work by Cattelan, who is 55, was $7.9 million.

Spring art auctions in New York began late Sunday and last through Thursday. The 1,500-odd pieces up for auction this week are expected to bring in more than a billion dollars.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers an artistic dialogue between Rodin and modern photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe, as both artists search for anatomical beauty.

Photo above: Auguste Rodin, L'éternel Printemps. Inscribed with the signature Rodin. Marble. Height: 26 1/4 in. 66.6 cm. Conceived in 1884 and carved in 1901-03. Courtesy: Sotheby's.