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Portrait of Balzac

A work made of bronze.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of bronze.


modeled 1893
(cast 1926/33)


Auguste Rodin
French, 1840-1917

About this artwork

In 1891 Auguste Rodin was commissioned by a literary society to produce a posthumous monument to the French writer Honoré de Balzac. Over the course of seven years, the sculptor created numerous studies for the composition, including this deliberately ungainly nude portrait. A departure from the idealized classical bodies typical of public statuary, this study stresses Balzac’s vitality and candor through its bold modeling, imposing torso, and confident stance. For the finished statue, in which the writer appears enveloped in a robe, Rodin continued to test the boundaries of sculpture, presenting his subject as an almost abstract, monolithic form. That version provoked harsh criticism from the public and was rejected by the literary society when first exhibited in 1898.


On View, Gallery 240


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Auguste Rodin


Portrait of Balzac


France (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Modeled 1893




127.6 × 73.7 × 59.7 cm (50 1/4 × 29 × 23 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Silvain and Arma Wyler

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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