Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Man with the Broken Nose
H. 56.8 cm ; W. 41.5 cm ; D. 23.9 cm
Marble carved by Léon Fourquet in 1874-1875.
This work, executed circa 1863, has a long history.The original plaster bust froze and the back of the head fell off. Rodin submitted the remaining mask to the Salon of 1865, but without success. The marble, carved by Léon Fourquet, dating from the winter of 1874-75, however, was accepted at the Salon of 1875.
The sitter for the bust, which began as a simple portrait, was an elderly workman from the Saint-Marcel district of Paris,who went by the name of “Bibi”. By emphasizing certain features – the broken nose, the deep lines, the style of the beard – Rodin established a parallel between this face and Michelangelo’s, and thus the individual portrait dissolved into an archetype.
The way in which the bust is cut, its “philosophical” nudity and the classical-style fillet in the hair heighten the impression of a work that is no longer entirely an individual portrait, but one that, by accentuating certain distinctive features, amalgamates general characteristics attributed to the philospher and the artist. In many respects, this early portrait by Rodin epitomizes the sculptor’s working method and, above all, his concept of portraiture.