BOURDELLE, Émile-Antoine
(b. 1861, Montauban, d. 1929, Le Vésinet)

Large Tragic Mask of Beethoven

1901
Bronze, height 77 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Bourdelle made more than 40 depictions of the great composer. For him, Beethoven became the embodiment of creative energy, which is conveyed here by the expressive painterly treatment of the material, accentuating volume by means of texture and line. The empty and strangely convex eye sockets in this face without a gaze intensify the sense of a force bursting it apart from within, which seems to originate from the mighty arch of the tightly pressed lips.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 7 minutes):
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor op. 67 (1st mvt)