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Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Balzac, Second Study for Nude F, known as Nude as an Athlete
H. 93.1 cm ; W. 43.5 cm ; D. 35 cm
Cast by Georges Rudier, 1969, for the museum collections.
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In 1891, Rodin received the commission for a Monument to Balzac from the Société des Gens de Lettres, a writers’ association co-founded by the author of The Human Comedy.
The sculptor set to work with his customary enthusiasm. He began by assembling as many portraits and descriptions as he could. He then made sketches of several compositions, none of which satisfied him, and finally decided to use as a starting point the torso of a study made about ten years earlier for one of the Burghers of Calais, Jean d’Aire.
This muscular body did not correspond to the idea people had of the great writer, but Rodin was no longer looking for a physical resemblance: the tense, determined expression of this figure was what interested him, for it was meant to confer the strength of a wrestler on his Balzac.As usual, the sculptor worked through fragmentation and assemblage, adding legs, modifying the position of the arms, placing the hands over the genitals, trying out several heads… It was this body, draped in a dressing gown and provided with a head , that would enable Rodin to elaborate the final monument.