At the Cornilliers’ today some talk of Rodin. Henri Havet stated defiantly that he was going mad, was in fact mad. Of erotomania. He said also that he did pieces of sculpture and then deliberately broke them.
Some one remarked that an artist had the right after all to break up a piece that did not please him.
‘Yes,’ Havet explained, ‘but not to send it broken to an exhibition, in imitation of the Venus de Milo etc.’ A Mme Neck (?), a very pretty woman, who knew Rodin personally, gave a curious experience of his peculiarities. He is in the habit of showing little erotic pieces to lady visitors. He took her to one such, a woman seated or bending down in the middle of a plate. ‘Le sujet était assez clair,’ she indicated.
He asked her what she would call that. By way of a title for it. She said politely, ‘La source de volupté.’ ‘Splendid!’ said Rodin, and scratched the title on the plate. The very next day her sister was at the studio, and was shown the same piece. ‘What would you call that?’ Rodin asked her. ‘The water fairy’, suggested the sister. ‘Splendid!’ said Rodin, and wrote the title on the other side of the plate. Some one said that he got his titles like that, by asking every one and then choosing the best.
Cornillier said he one sat next to Rodin at lunch, and happened to say that a certain woman was not pretty. ‘What!’ cried Rodin solemnly, ‘It has happened to you sometimes to meet a woman who was not beautiful? I have never met a woman who was not beautiful.’
I remembered, then, Rodin’s dictum, printed somewhere, that every thing on earth is beautiful. With this, in a way, I agree.’
Journals of Arnold Bennett - Sunday, May 6th 1906