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Study of Honoré de Balzac

Study of Honoré de Balzac

1891-1892

Auguste Rodin

(French, 1840-1917)

Bronze

Overall: 52.7 x 39.4 x 32.4 cm (20 3/4 x 15 1/2 x 12 3/4 in.)

Bequest of Edgar A. Hahn 1972.277

Description

In 1891 Rodin was commissioned to create a monument honoring the celebrated French writer Honoré de Balzac. The figure evolved through multiple stages over a seven-year period as Rodin explored different methods of conveying the author’s genius and personality. This bust is a study for the first version, in which the full figure stands upright with legs apart, arms crossed over his corpulent belly. Rodin’s unglamorous portrayal of a national hero shocked the public accustomed to idealized figures in public monuments. The final design was even more intensely criticized because Rodin reduced the body to a powerful, abstract mass intended to convey the symbolic essence of the writer’s creative vitality.

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