Balzac, Rodin Museum

Auguste Rodin
exhibited 1898; cast later

Rodin received a commission for a monument to Balzac in 1891 from the Société des Gens de Lettres. After seven years' preparation by reading the author's works, by studying his biography (attempting to understand the personality and psychology of this literary genius), and by executing about 50 studies, Rodin exhibited a model of the work in the Salon of 1898. Not only did the Société reject the work, but it received extraordinary controversy in the press. Criticism centered on the fact that Rodin's treatment of a famous person did not follow the formula for aggrandizing the subject and on the lack of a finished surface, so important in academic sculptural style.

Views of Balzac

Although Balzac did wear the famous robe while working, the lack of emphasis on his body focusses attention on his face and the unruly shock of hair. Rodin attempts to convey Balzac's genius by depicting the deep-set visionary eyes.

See also Rodin's Eve and his Call to Arms.

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