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)
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
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.