Rodin Works: bust of jean-baptiste rodin

Bust of Jean-Baptiste Rodin, bronze, Musée Rodin  

The bust of his father Jean-Baptiste is the first surviving sculpture of Auguste Rodin. It was modeled 1860 in clay, saved in plaster but never exhibited nor cast in bronze during Rodin's lifetime. Like the 'Bust of Father Eymard', it was stored in an attic, where it was rediscovered by Rodin's last secretary, Marcelle Tirel, together with the sculptor's son Auguste, " black with dust and covered with spider webs that only Rodin could recognize it." Posthumously, the bust was cast in bronze.

Auguste Rodin shows his father - a police official - like a republican from Roman Times, without his characteristic beard and closely cropped hair. Over the neck and the shoulders appear no clothes, instead the head merges into a base in traditional antique style. The young artist was soon to give up this Neoclassical Manner and and find to a new, more expressive style.

Elsen suggests the extraordinary firmness of the father's face in this portrait may have been the young artist's response to an alleged statement by Jean-Baptiste, calling his son a "soft pear".



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