Head of the Tragic Muse (Tête de la Muse tragique)
This remarkable bust was originally created for Rodin’s Monument to Victor Hugo, as part of an allegorical female figure speaking passionately to the author. A number of critics decried it as an unfinished deformity. Others felt her shifting, fluid features effectively symbolized the processes of consciousness, creativity, or genius. As one critic remarked, Rodin’s tragic muse certainly broke with tradition, being “at a droll remove from the licked prettiness of the customary nymph.’’
What remains startling today is the degree to which Rodin abandoned lifelike representation in this work. It had instead become about the emotional impact—divorced from facial or narrative legibility—conveyed by the artist’s visible manipulation of the material.
1895; cast 1979
11 5/8 x 7 1/4 x 9 7/8 in. (29.5 x 18.4 x 25.1 cm) (show scale)
Back, proper left side of neck at bottom edge: ".Georges Rudier./.Fondeur Paris."
Back, proper right side at base of neck: "© by Musée Rodin 1979"
Bottom left side: "A. Rodin"
Neck, proper left: "No 5"
Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
This item is not on view
Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917). Head of the Tragic Muse (Tête de la Muse tragique), 1895; cast 1979. Bronze, 11 5/8 x 7 1/4 x 9 7/8 in. (29.5 x 18.4 x 25.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 84.75.12. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.75.12_bw.jpg)
overall, 84.75.12_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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