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L’Adieu, modelled in 1921, takes direct inspiration from Antonio Canova’s famous sculpture The Three Graces, which in turn was inspired by the antique example of the subject in the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum. The antique version presented the three woman engaged in a light embrace, but facing in opposite directions.

Canovas example presented the women facing each other and introduces an increased erotic element by having the figures interact with one another. The unity of the Graces is one of the piece’s main themes.

Rousseau explores this theme further. The figures are at once unified and set apart, and the sensuality of the piece is once again increased by the women embracing not only each other but also themselves, their empowering connection depicted in an imminent kiss.

L’Adieu was founded by the Brussels foundry, Petermann, who famously cast one of the early bronzes of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais, in 1905. The underside of the marble base of this sculpture retains the remains of an original exhibition label and an Italian import stamp, indicating that this might have been one of the 7 sculptures that Rousseau showed at the 1922 Venice Biennale.