In a previous NiceWork posting (LACMA Christmas Treat, December 5, 2008) we expressed certainty that the surprise sculpture under wraps was a Rodin. Specifically, we thought the figure showing hazily through its thick protective sheath of polyvinyl was a Rodin job called Hercules, the Archer.
Well, it was Hercules, the Archer, all right, but it wasn’t the one by Auguste Rodin. The Hercules by Rodin looks like this: CLIK HYAH. This other Hercules, now plonked down into a little outdoor sculpture garden on the south side of LACMA, is by the French sculptor Émile-Antoine Bourdelle. He was a student of Rodin. He made the sculpture way back in 1909. Then, twenty years later, he died!
Bourdelle signed his sculpture of Hercules the Archer with a curious symbol made up of his initials slyly combined. Two triangles are superimposed, but the invert triangle has a bent tip; it makes the Bourdelle “B” if you look at with your head atilt. I copied the the signature into my wee notebook and scanned the drawing for you to see.