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.
- Auguste Rodin
- Portrait of Balzac
- Modeled 1893
- 127.6 × 73.7 × 59.7 cm (50 1/4 × 29 × 23 1/2 in.)
- Gift of Silvain and Arma Wyler