As usual with Rodin, there are conflicting interpretations of this work and the influences upon it. One of the more unlikely ideas is that it is about his relationship with his sister, Maria, who died of peritonitis in 1862 when Rodin was 22 years old. Far more convincing is that it is a collaboration with his lover and student Camille Claudel based on her work La Jeune Fille à la Gerbe (Young Girl with a Sheaf), 1887. Rodin did his own copy of this piece (which he entitled Galatea) in 1889. He then adapted the structure by changing the arms, making the face more angular and adding a child for his Brother and Sister.
Rodin retains the pubescent modesty and sentimentality of Claudel's model and adds the irritation of having to cope with a younger sibling. It should be acknowledged that such collaborations where not unusual and that Rodin added his own influences from Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and Jean-Baptiste Pigalle to make the piece recognisably his own. The dimensions of Brother and Sister (La Frere et la Soeur) are: H. 38cm ; W. 18cm ; D. 20 cm and depending upon composition, weighs 5.5 kilos.
Brother and Sister was a commercial success and its popularity resulted in the reproduction of twenty-two bronzes and two marble pieces. In 1911, an original plaster painted version was gifted by Rodin to one Walter Butterworth who was purchasing bronzes for the Manchester City Art Gallery – this piece later became part of the Tate collection. The other versions of Brother and Sister are distributed throughout the world including: Musée Rodin (Paris), the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and others.