How did Rodin make these sculptures?
Rodin used the "sand casting" method. He would have created his intended form in clay, then built a mould around it using a mixture of special sand, salt, and a binding agent. When the mould was ready, he would remove the clay from the center and then pour liquid bronze into the mould. Unlike other bronze casting techniques available at the time, sand casting allows for the creation of multiples.
Why do you have so many Rodin sculptures?
We received many of the Rodin works currently on view as a gift from the Cantor Foundation in 1980s. The Cantor Foundation is interested creating opportunities to further explore the works of Rodin and his contemporaries.
What was Rodin's process for the Balzac commission?
Balzac had died 40 years before Rodin received the commission for the monument. In order to better understand the writer's physical appearance, Rodin went to Balzac’s hometown near Tours and found someone that resembled Balzac to model for him. He produced over 50 clay studies that later were cast in bronze and sold as independent artworks. All of the Balzac works you see here were studies for the final monument.
Were Rodin and Balzac colleagues?
They never met in person, Balzac was quite a bit older and had already passed away by the time Rodin was commissioned to sculpt him. When Rodin received the commission, he undertook extensive research, studying photos and portraits, reading descriptions of him, and even visiting his birthplace to sketch the inhabitants focusing on one individual that people said looked like Balzac.
Did the public enjoy this sculpture?
This was one of many studies and doesn't really reflect the final piece which featured Balzac with messy, haphazard hair and draped in a shapeless cloak.
People were not pleased with the final product calling it, “a sack of potatoes” and “a lump of plaster kicked together by a lunatic.”