Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Monumental Head of Balzac
Circa 1897, Made circa 1902-1904
H. 47 cm ; W. 44 cm ; D. 38 cm
Abandoning the idea of making a true likeness of Balzac, Rodin decided to express the writer’s creative force. He focused on the main facial features (mouth,nose, arches of the eyebrows, thick masses of hair) and emphasized their relief to create a powerful effect of contrast. In so doing, Balzac, Monumental Head is distinguished from his body, draped in a dressing gown that the sculptor wanted to be smoothly flowing and full of nuances .
Rodin enjoyed reworking the studies made for his major works and producing works that differed in size and medium.This is why he entrusted an enlargement of one of the final studies for the head of Balzac (1898) to Paul Jeanneney, a wealthy engineer turned enlightened potter, so that he could translate it into stoneware. Like his master Jean Carriès, Jeanneney had a real passion for Japanese pottery, whose texture and colour effects he succeeded in reproducing here.