Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Head of Henry Becque on neck of the Shade
H. 69.2 cm ; W. 46.5 cm ; D. 47 cm
Rodin, who had made a portrait bust of Henry Becque in 1883, decided to use it again when he received a commission for a monument to commemorate the playwright, in 1904.
At the time, the sculptor was passionately interested in the effect of monumentality obtained through the enlargement of a work, which accentuated the play of volumes by eliminating the details. In the case of Becque’s bust, the already highly structured forms of the face and hair assumed a surprisingly geometric appearance. Rodin went one step further by cutting off the head and assembling it with the highly distinctive neck of The Shade that he placed upright.The face, balancing on the edges of this neck that does not belong to it, seems to hover like a strange apparition.
For some unknown reason, Rodin then added a sort of plaster palette to the base which only reinforces this fascinating work’s air of mystery. Exactly where this bust fits into the elaboration process of the Monument to Henry Becque also remains unknown.