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Monument to James McNeill Whistler
Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Study for the Naked Muse, without Arms
H. 223.5 cm ; W. 90 cm ; D. 109.5 cm
Cast made by Fonderie de Coubertin in 1986 for the museum collections.
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During the Whistler exhibition inaugural dinner held in London, in 1905, it was decided to erect a monument to the painter James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). The commission went to Rodin, who, in 1903, had been unanimously elected president of the International Society of Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, the association founded by Whistler in 1897. Rodin decided to pay tribute to the painter’s genius, not through a conventional portrait, an effigy or historical scene, but through an allegorical figure, a “Muse climbing the mountain of fame”, the model for which was Gwen John, a young Welsh painter.
This design, which paved the way for a whole new concept of the public monument, resulted in a large-scale, armless,nude figure, exhibited at the Salon, where it was criticized for its unfinished appearance.The sculpture should have been reworked, but on Rodin’s death, the monument was still not complete.