Auguste de Niederhäusern dit Rodo (1863-1913)
Auguste de Niederhäusern was born in Vevey, Switzerland, on April 2, 1863. He was the third of nine children, and was called Rodo, a diminutive of the Christian name Rodolphe, which he was given at birth. Though his family originally intended him to be a grocer, in 1881 he enrolled in the industrial arts school in Geneva and finished his education with courses at the fine arts school, focusing on sculpture.
In 1886, he moved to Paris, where he met French sculptors, including Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-1875). He became a student at the Académie Julian and then at the École des Beaux-arts. In 1889, he moved to the studio of Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900), who had been awarded the 1859 Prix de Rome, and who counted Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929) among his students. Bourdelle considered Rodo to be "one of the most gifted in the studio." He "stood out for his artistic aptitude and for the continual progress that he made in his studies."
Rodo showed two portraits in the Swiss section of the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition, and in 1892, met Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) and worked closely with him as his assistant until 1898. And yet he also remained close to his Swiss roots, working with the circle around Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) and the emerging new Swiss art that he represented. Rodo made a number of busts of prominent figures, such as Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Giovanni Giacometti (1868-1933), and his friend Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Rodo went back to Switzerland regularly to show his works and to compete for commissions for monuments. Between 1898 and 1905, pursued by creditors in Paris, he lived full-time in Bern and Lausanne.
Working between Paris and Switzerland, Rodo received both private and public commissions, making enough to live on, but just barely. From 1910 on, the sculptor worked to become more involved with the art world of Paris. The state's purchase of Psyche in 1910, the inauguration of the monument to Verlaine in the Luxembourg Gardens in 1911, and the award of the Legion of Honor in 1912 all marked advances toward this goal.
Considered among his most remarkable works are his Portrait of Ferdinand Hodler, Mask of a Woman, Offering to Bacchus, Ophelia, Venus Passing in Front of the Sun, and Jeremy, acquired by the Gottfried Keller Foundation in 1919.
Auguste von Niederhäusern-Rodo died on May 22, 1913 in Munich, Germany. Most of his works are held today in public collections in Switzerland as well as in France and England.