Iris, gudenes sendebud

  • Artist: Auguste Rodin
  • Creation date: 1890–1891
  • Object type: Sculpture

Not on display


Auguste Rodin’s Iris, Messenger of the Gods represents a naked, headless female body in a momentary, gymnastic movement. Gravity has been suspended for an instant. She balances on the toes of her left foot, while her right hand grasps her right foot. Her thighs are thrust apart, exposing the woman’s genitalia. Rodin displays a rare artistic licence and demonstrates his mastery of representing the human body in a spontaneous, expressive movement. In order to underscore the work’s multifaceted nature, he gave this seemingly unfinished sculpture a number of titles: Iris, Messenger of the Gods; Another Voice; Study of Woman with Legs Apart; and Eternal Tunnel. The latter title confirms the erotic suggestiveness of the figure’s provocative posture.

The work was inspired by a variety of sources: Greek mythology and the fragmentary statues from antiquity, Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures, and the dances and acrobatics that were in vogue at the fin de siècle. A previous version of the sculpture was intended as a monument to Victor Hugo, which Rodin worked on over several years. In his sketch from 1890, The Apotheosis of Victor Hugo, he had placed a winged female figure on a cloud over the great writer’s head, symbolizing divine inspiration. The figure was subsequently detached from the monument and envisioned as an autonomous work of art. Rodin reversed and enlarged the figure and removed the head, the left arm, and the wings. The end result was one of the most radical sculptures in his copious, important oeuvre.

Text: Frithjof Bringager

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0


Auguste Rodin

Visual artist

Born 1840 in Paris, Frankrike, death 1917 in Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine)

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Iris, gudenes sendebud (NOR)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
  • Width: 85 cm
  • Height: 83.5 cm
  • Weight: 69 kg
Motif - type:
Gave fra generalkonsul Peter Krag 1938
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Høstland, Børre/Børre Høstland