Final Study for the Monument to Balzac

Auguste Rodin French
Cast by Georges Rudier French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 800

In 1891 Rodin was commissioned to construct a posthumous monument to the illustrious literary figure Honoré de Balzac. It took the sculptor seven years to arrive at the final study from which this bronze was cast. Gaze fixed toward the horizon, a disheveled Balzac leans back, his body transformed by a shapeless oversize dressing gown into a dense and formidable monolith. Today Balzac’s shrouded figure is understood to be symbolic of the author’s imposing genius. Contemporary viewers, however, were baffled by its inarticulate form. The work provoked harsh criticism upon its debut in 1898, but Rodin defended it, explaining that "a man celebrated for his heart and mind should not be [represented by] his body."

#2193. Final Study for the Monument to Balzac

Final Study for the Monument to Balzac, Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon), Bronze, French

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