Head of Sorrow

Jacques-Ernest Bulloz (1852 -1942)


Carbon print

H. 33.3 cm ; W. 26 cm


In 1903, Rodin ended his collaboration with his appointed photographer, Eugène Druet, who was about to open an art gallery. The sculptor began looking for a professional photographer who could cope with the growing demand for reproductions of his work.


The photography publisher Jacques-Ernest Bulloz met all his requirements : a good technician and rigorous manager, he signed an exclusive contract with Rodin on 5 May 1903, which lasted until the artist’s death 15 years later. Bulloz not only worked as a photographer for the sculptor, but also gradually took charge of all the paperwork concerning the distribution of photographs of Rodin’s oeuvre, even those taken by other photographers, such as Haweis and Coles.


The work portrayed here, Head of Sorrow, which first appeared circa 1882 in The Gates of Hell , appeared recurrently in Rodin’s oeuvre. It was enlarged after 1900, and the present marble version was photographed by Bulloz, who always took pictures of Rodin’s works for commercial and documentary purposes. The faithful reproduction of the object to be represented governed his technical and aesthetic approach.


He worked methodically and laid the foundations of photographic conventions related to museum exhibits that are still observed today. The subject is isolated through the use of a backdrop. While the depth of field covers the sculpture, the background remains deliberately hazy, to make the subject stand out. Bulloz worked with both a principal and a secondary source of light. Whenever there was only one source of light available, a studio window, for example, he created a second one with the help of a reflector. He thus succeeded in conveying to perfection the volumes of a sculpture, to which he then added fabulous shades of colour by using a photographic process called carbon printing.

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