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Monument to Balzac, 1897

Auguste Rodin
French, 1840-1917
Bronze, Edition of 12, Cast No. 8.
107 x 44 x 48 in. (271.8 x 111.8 x 121.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

Not on View

Given the power and brutality of the human form in Auguste Rodin’s Monument to Balzac, it is no surprise to find that the work was universally rejected by all but the most progressive viewers upon its first exhibition in 1898. The sculpture is an expressive, potent portrait of the embattled writer, and it took Rodin seven years of meticulous study to complete. Its action, its plays with light, and its spectacular vitality—all cornerstones of Rodin’s technique—broke entirely with the sculptural traditions of the past and nearly singlehandedly brought the medium into the twentieth century. Rodin himself said that the work was beyond compare, claiming that it was “the sum of my whole life, the result of a lifetime of effort, the mainspring of my aesthetic theory. From the day of its conception, I was a changed man.”

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