October 7, 1999 - January 2, 2000
This loan exhibition will comprise approximately 20 sculptures by Auguste Rodin, ranging from a small terracotta sketch to a life-size portrait in marble, as well as bronze figures, all relating to Rodin's monument to Victor Hugo that was originally commissioned for the Panthéon in Paris. Although a plaster model for the work was a popular success in the Paris Salon of 1897, the completion of this version of the monument and its installation in the Panthéon never took place. A modified version of it in marble was erected in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris, where it stood until 1933.
Rodin's Monument to Victor Hugo will feature a full-scale bronze — cast from Rodin's finished plaster model of 1897 — as the centerpiece of the exhibition. In the sculpture, Hugo is shown lost in thought, listening to inspirations personified by figures called The Inner Voice (after the title of a collection of Hugo's poems) and The Tragic Muse. Although the monument to Victor Hugo is one of Rodin's most elaborate creations — he revised and refined his conception of the work for more than a decade — it is among his least known. A selection of related prints and photographs tracing the various stages of this legendary commission will also be featured.
The exhibition is organized by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation.
Victor-Marie Hugo (1802-85), author of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables, was not only one of France's greatest writers but was also exalted for his unflinching commitment to human rights and democracy. The dramatic events of Hugo's life as well as his political idealism and remarkable literary achievements made him a figure of tremendous national stature. In 1889, four years after Hugo's death, the French government commissioned Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), the preeminent sculptor of the era, to create a monument to this towering hero. Because Rodin had long revered Hugo, this commission took on intense personal significance — especially as it was intended to be among the most imposing elements of a grand program of sculptures in the Panthéon honoring the heroes of France.
Rodin's Monument to Victor Hugo premiered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in December 1998 and traveled to the Portland Art Museum prior to its opening at the Metropolitan Museum.
January 11, 1999