Octave Mirbeau (1848 -1917)
Letter from Octave Mirbeau to Rodin
1885 (Early September)
Ink on paper
H. 17.5 cm ; W. 11.4 cm
“Rodin is great and Mirbeau is his prophet.”This witticism dating from 1900 demonstrates the close friendship that had existed between Rodin and the journalist and novelist since the early 1880s. Octave Mirbeau was, in fact, one of the first art critics to defend the sculptor. The two exchanged voluminous correspondence – the museum has nearly 200 letters from Mirbeau to the sculptor – and, as a token of his recognition and friendship, the sculptor modelled the portrait bust of the man of letters in 1888.
Mirbeau, who had worked as a ghostwriter to pay off his debts from 1872 to 1884, could easily sympathize with Rodin who, until the age of 44, was also employed by other sculptors, including Carrier-Belleuse, who took credit for his works. Rodin kept his promise to the writer, staying on two occasions on his estate near Laigle (Orne), where Mirbeau wrote two of his books, Lettres de ma chaumière and Les Lettres de l’Inde.