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Balzac, Nude Study C, Large Version (Balzac, étude de nu, grand modèle)

European Art

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.
MEDIUM Bronze
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1892-1893; cast 1972
    DIMENSIONS 49 7/8 x 19 1/4 x 26 1/2 in., 148 lb. (126.7 x 48.9 x 67.3 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Lower edge of base, near proper right foot: ".Georges Rudier./.Fondeur. Paris." Lower edge of base, near proper left foot: "© by Musée Rodin. 1972."
    SIGNATURE Front, top of base, proper left: "A. Rodin"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 85.198
    EDITION Edition: 9/12
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917). Balzac, Nude Study C, Large Version (Balzac, étude de nu, grand modèle), 1892-1893; cast 1972. Bronze, 49 7/8 x 19 1/4 x 26 1/2 in., 148 lb. (126.7 x 48.9 x 67.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 85.198. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 85.198_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 85.198_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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