A sculptural hybrid with a somewhat complicated history, The Walking Man was made from a cast of a torso that was probably a study for Rodin's Saint John the Baptist Preaching (1878) joined to a cast of the legs from another study for the Saint John. Rodin exhibited a plaster model of the resulting sculpture in his retrospective exhibition in the Place de l'Alma at the time of the Paris Exposition Universal of 1900. Between 1905 and 1907 he enlarged the sculpture and changed the title from A Study for Saint John the Baptist to The Walking Man. A bronze cast from the enlarged model was placed in the French embassy in Rome, then housed in the Palazzo Farnese.
The Walking Man displays not only Rodin's fascination with partial figures, reminiscent of antique sculptural fragments, but also his interest in the sculptural representation of the human body in sequential motion. By showing both feet planted firmly on the ground, the sculptor attempted to record not a realistic depiction of a man walking, but instead the movements at the beginning and at the end of his step, producing the impression of a movement which, in fact, takes several moments to accomplish.
Signature: On front of base: A. Rodin
Inscription: On top of base: à Madame/Nelson Robinson de New York/ M. Rodin heureux de voir/ son oeuvre l'homme qui marche/ figurée dans son salon lui offre/ ses hommages affecteux./ Auguste Rodin
Marking: At back of base: Alexis. Rudier/Fondeur. Paris
Mrs. Nelson Robinson ; by descent, Miss G. Louise Robinson (until 1940; to MMA)