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Man with the Broken Nose, Reduction (L'homme au nez cassé, réduction)

European Art

For one of his earliest independent works, Rodin discarded conventional notions of beauty and chose as his model a local handyman whose rough but dignified features, including a broken nose, likely reminded him of the ancient portrait busts he studied at the Louvre. Vividly alive, and thus to him beautiful, it was a face the artist was compelled to model in clay, as Rainer Maria Rilke recounted:

Rodin’s motive in modeling this head, the head of an aging, ugly man, whose broken nose even helped to emphasize the tortured expression of the face, must have been the fullness of life that was cumulated in these features. There were no symmetrical planes in this face at all, nothing repeated itself, no spot remained empty, dumb, or indifferent.

This face had not been touched by life, it had been permeated through and through with it as though an inexorable hand had thrust it into fate and held it there in the whirlpool of a washing, gnawing torrent. A smaller variant of the head would later appear in The Gates of Hell, and Rodin had it cast in a variety of sizes, of which this reduction is one. In 1875 a marble version his assistant carved became the first of Rodin’s works to be accepted at the Paris Salon.
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES ca. 1863, reduction ca. 1900; cast 1970
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/4 × 2 1/2 × 2 3/4 in., 1 lb. (9.5 × 6.4 × 7 cm, 0.45kg)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Foundry mark: "G. Rudier./Fond. Paris."
    SIGNATURE Proper left neck: "A. Rodin"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917). Man with the Broken Nose, Reduction (L'homme au nez cassé, réduction), ca. 1863, reduction ca. 1900; cast 1970. Bronze, 3 3/4 × 2 1/2 × 2 3/4 in., 1 lb. (9.5 × 6.4 × 7 cm, 0.45kg). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 84.75.8. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.75.8_bw.jpg)
    EDITION Edition: 8/12
    IMAGE overall, 84.75.8_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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