The Ark of the Covenant


The Cathedral, Auguste Rodin, 1908

 

Carved in stone and still covered in toolmarks,The Cathedral is a combination of two right hands, belonging to two different figures. It was entitled The Ark of the Covenant, before being named The Cathedral, very probably after the publication of Auguste Rodin’s Les Cathédrales de France, in 1914. Parallels may be drawn between the mysterious inner space that seems to emanate from the composition and Gothic architecture. Emptiness was a factor that Rodin used to allow for, and, as Rainer Maria Rilke pointed out, “the role of air had always been extremely important” for him (Rilke, 1928).

Very similar to The Secret, this work belongs to the series carved in marble, most frequently after 1900, such as The Hand of God, The Hand of the Devil, Hands of Lovers and Hand from the Tomb. But, more broadly, it emphasizes Rodin’s fondness and passion for these hands, which he isolated, like the fragments in his collection of Antiques, in order to give them a more finished and autonomous form.

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