Balzac in a Monk's Habit (Balzac en robe de moine)
On View: Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 4th Floor
In 1891, a Parisian literary society commissioned Rodin to make a monument to Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850), one of the most controversial and influential authors in nineteenth-century France.
From 1891 until 1895, Rodin’s idea was to make a physical and spiritual likeness of Balzac. In 1896, however, Rodin decided to make a more symbolic monument, associating intellectual and artistic creativity with sexual activity, for which Balzac was equally well known. Thus, Rodin sculpted a Balzac who grasps his erect phallus beneath his robe, an act reflected in the overall phallic silhouette of the final monument.
Rodin completed the nine-foot-tall plaster model in 1898. Critics described it as a snowman, a side of beef, and a mistake. The society refused to accept it, and it was not cast in bronze until after Rodin’s death.
ca. 1893; cast 1971
41 7/8 x 19 3/4 x 15 1/2in. (106.4 x 50.2 x 39.4cm)
133 lb. (60.33kg) (show scale)
Back, bottom edge of base: ".Georges Rudier./.Fondeur. Paris."
Base, bottom edge, proper left: "© by Musée Rodin 1971"
Hem of robe, proper left: "A. Rodin No 1"
Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
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Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917). Balzac in a Monk's Habit (Balzac en robe de moine), ca. 1893; cast 1971. Bronze, 41 7/8 x 19 3/4 x 15 1/2in. (106.4 x 50.2 x 39.4cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 84.75.22. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.75.22_SL1.jpg)
overall, 84.75.22_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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