Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
H. 103 cm ; W. 53,5 cm ; D. 41 cm
Possibly the seventh cast, made in September 1917, gift of Rodin “to Mme Rodin for Auguste Beuret” and immediately sold by Beuret.
Bequest of Mme Eugène Rudier, 1957.
In 1879, Rodin took part in a competition to design a Monument to the Republic, which would adorn the new town hall in Paris’ eighth arrondissement.
Possibly inspired by his companion Rose Beuret in a fit of anger, the bust initially appeared under the names of warrior heroines such as Clorinda, Hippolyta, and then Bellona, the Roman goddess of war, considered by some to be the wife of Mars, and who here became the personification of the Republic. Rodin placed a Renaissance-style helmet on her head instead of the Phrygian cap specified in the competition rules.
The result was a sullen, belligerent, somewhat rebellious Republic, totally out of keeping with the image the French government wanted to project, evoking instead a nation thirsting for revenge after its defeat by the Prussians in 1870. However, the bust was much admired by artists like Dubois, Falguière, Carrier-Belleuse and Chapu, who recognized the sculptor’s talent as a modeller and his power of expression.
Rodin lost the competition, but the bust may be regarded as one of his strongest works.