St John the Baptist, Man with a Broken Nose and the Bust of Bellone

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St John the Baptist, Man with a Broken Nose and the Bust of Bellone

Charles Michelez (1817- vers 1894)

Charles Michelez was one of the professionals commissioned by Rodin to photograph his works from the 1870s onwards. All the sculptures visible in the Dépôt des Marbres studio when this shot was taken were produced before 1880, during the first half of Rodin’s career: the Bust of Bellone on the left; the head of Man with the Broken Nose on the right; the plaster statue of St John the Baptist in the middle.

According to Rodin, this figure of St John the Baptist was inspired by his encounter with an Italian peasant, Pignatelli, who offered his services as a model. As soon as Rodin saw him, he was “filled with admiration; in his bearing, his features and his physical strength, this rough, disheveled man expressed all the violence, but also all the mystical character, of his race.” Invited to pose nude, Pignatelli spontaneously struck a pose that made Rodin think of a “walking man.” Although this statue shows neither of the saint’s usual attributes (a cross and a phylactery scroll), its form symbolizes the prophet John the Baptist preaching in the desert. Pignatelli modeled for other artists―including Josef Maratka, as we know from a drawing in the Musée Rodin’s collection.

Rodin brushed broad strokes of ink and gouache around St John the Baptist and each of the two busts, thereby isolating the figures and removing them from the context of the studio. This showcased each work and gave the final composition a timeless quality


  • Buste de Saint Jean-Baptiste
  • Saint Jean-Baptiste
  • Pignatelli

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Completion date :

About 1889

Dimensions :

H. 22.5; W. 15.3 cm (primary support); H. 35.2; W. 27 cm (secondary support)

Materials :

Print on albumen paper, retouched with ink and gouache by Rodin

Inventory number :


Credits :

© Musée Rodin

Additional information


  • St John the Baptist, Man with a Broken Nose and the Bust of Bellone(jpeg, 203.6 ko)