The Age of Bronze, medium-sized model, first reduction (L'Age d'airain, première réduction)
On View: Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Gallery, 4th Floor
This male nude was initially called The Vanquished, in tribute to the French people after their decisive defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). In treating this subject, Rodin was engaging with classical antiquity and with Michelangelo, who had dealt with the theme of spiritual and physical defeat in his Slave sculptures, two of which Rodin knew from the Louvre. But Rodin departed from the idealization that characterized the traditional male nude by relying on the “unimproved” body of a real model. Over a period of eighteen months, he scrutinized his model from all angles, capturing every shifting contour of the body. When he exhibited the life-size plaster at the Salon of 1877 he called it The Age of Bronze, a title that invited a range of subjective responses. Its enigmatic gestures revealed no clear meaning, and its naturalism led some critics to falsely accuse the artist of making a cast directly from the body of the model.
The half-life-size version seen here was probably first produced in 1903–4 in response to popular demand for an edition at a reduced size of Rodin’s first major work.
1876 (reduction probably 1903-04); cast 1967
41 1/4 x 15 x 13 in., 65 lb. (104.8 x 38.1 x 33 cm, 29.48kg)
Back of base:".Georges Rudier./.Fondeur. Paris."
Base, bottom edge: "© by Musée Rodin 1967"
Base, proper left: "A. Rodin"
Gift of B. Gerald Cantor
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