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Art & Design

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Auguste Rodin

Study for the Monument to Balzac

Auguste Rodin French, 1840-1917
Study for the Monument to Balzac, 1892
127.6 x 52.1 x 62.9 cm (50 5/16 x 20 1/2 x 24 13/16 inches)
Museum purchase with funds donated by the Museum Associates, Museum Members and Friends 66.057

  • In 1891, Rodin received a commission for a statue of novelist Honoré de Balzac (1799- 1850), which was to be installed in front of the Théâtre Français in Paris. He subsequently immersed himself in Balzac’s writings, studied known portraits, measured his clothing, and examined the physical characteristics of residents of his native region. RISD’s Study for the Monument to Balzac, which reveals Balzac’s nude, corpulent figure in the attitude of a wrestler, represents Rodin’s first attempt at the commission. Although accurate, it was rejected as shocking and deformed. A second attempt, completed in 1898, depicts Balzac in the floor-length monk’s robe he wore while writing. Also rejected at first, the robed version was later installed near the intersection of boulevards Raspail and Montparnasse

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