Séraphin Soudbinine: From Rodin’s Assistant to Ceramic Artist

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Continuing the Legion of Honor’s 2017 celebrations of Auguste Rodin, a new installation examines the work of Séraphin Soudbinine, a Russian-born sculptor and ceramic artist who became Rodin’s assistant and chief marble carver.

Soudbinine studied sculpture first under Russian Leopold Sinaeff-Bernstein and then from 1906 under the great Rodin. He worked on the marble version of Rodin’s Hand of God that is kept today in the Musée Rodin, Paris. At the same time, he worked on his own sculptures, which he exhibited in Paris, including a portrait of Rodin. Between 1910 and 1913 he made sculptures of famous dancers associated with the Ballets Russes for production by the Imperial Porcelain Factory; those of Anna Pavlova and Tamara Karsavina in bronze are on view in this installation. In the 1920s he changed artistic direction, making ceramics in the highly stylized Art Deco taste inspired by the Chinese porcelain he had seen in New York museums, and also drawing on Russian folk art traditions. These several examples of Soudbinine’s work were acquired by Legion founder Alma de Bretteville Spreckels and are exhibited here for the first time in many years.

Currently on view