Why is this just the head?
Rodin made studies of heads and hands separate from bodies, in order to focus on expression. These were sometimes cast and sold as unique sculptures.
I feel that this is an exceptionally expressive face. You can see Jean d'Aire drawing his lips in tightly in determination but his eyes betray his fear.
I love the color and finish.
It is beautiful. If you look closely, you can see that each bronze has a unique patina. I admire the rich color of this sculpture.
Who is it?
This is Jean d'Aire. He was one of the citizens of Calais who volunteered to sacrifice his life to save his city when it was under siege by the English in 1347.
The city of Calais commissioned Rodin to boost morale and patriotism after France was defeated in the Franco Prussian War. Rodin also made a sculpture of the Mayor of Calais, Omer Dewavrin, who helped him to secure the commission. That portrait is on display towards the back of the exhibition.
Why is that some of his sculptures without eyes? Did he intentionally leave it out?
I believe the lack of eyes is a reference to antiquity. Many of the ancient sculptures Rodin would have seen would have been missing their eyes either because the inlays had been lost or the paint has come off.
Rodin was known to make such direct references to the sculptures he saw, including removing limbs. Also, he was more concerned with expression than detail.
Is this bronze or wood?
The work you're looking at is made of bronze.
Rodin would first sculpt his works in clay and then have his studio assistants cast them in plaster. The plaster casts could then be used to cast the works in bronze, as you see in this exhibition.
Using the clay models enabled the artist to change the scale of a piece?
To change the scale of the pieces, Rodin used what was called a Collas machine, named after engineer Achille Collas. This machine allowed the original sculpture and a clay or plaster blank to be kept at the same orientation, and relied on needles to transfer the profile of the
finished work to the unfinished work of a different scale.
My 7-year-old want to know: Why is this head so big?
It is big, isn't it? When Rodin made a sculpture of person (like the Burghers you see nearby), he would sculpt the heads and hands separately.
He wasn't very interested in getting the proportions right. If the head and hands were too big, that was okay. He more wanted them to show a lot of emotion and expression. The bigger the head, the more emotion it can show!
Wow, Thank you!
This was cast decades after it was created?
That's correct. Rodin created the mold that this head was cast from. Upon his death, he willed his studio and all of his molds to the French government. They were preserved in the Musee Rodin in Paris.
Casts were, of course, made during Rodin's lifetime, but more than one cast can be made from a single mold.
Oh I see.
Does the casting destroy the mold?
Not in the process that Rodin used. There is a video, in the exhibition, that helps explain how it works!
The molds were made in a few parts so that they could be pulled apart instead of shattered. If you look closely, you can even see evidence of these seams on some of the casts, like the Cybele.