RODIN, Auguste
(b. 1840, Paris, d. 1917, Meudon)

Balzac

1898 (cast 1939)
Bronze
Boulevard Montparnasse, Paris

This statue is the monument in memory of the French novelist Honoré Balzac (1799-1850). The work was commissioned in 1891 by the Société des Gens de Lettres, a full size plaster model was displayed in 1898 at a Salon in Champ de Mars. After coming under criticism, the model was rejected by the société and Rodin moved it to his home in Meudon. In 1939 (22 years after the sculptor's death) the model was cast in bronze for the first time and placed on the Boulevard du Montparnasse in Paris.

In the 1880s, Rodin had begun removing parts of the bodies of his statues to give more meaning to the rest; in portraying Balzac, he concealed the entire body. The figure has no arms, even; only the head emerges from the top of his menhir symbolizing creation. This is the starting point of twentieth-century sculpture. Indeed, it was because it was so far ahead of his time that the monument was rejected by the Societies.