The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

“Balzac” by Auguste Rodin

"Balzac" by Auguste Rodin - - Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

“Balzac” by Auguste Rodin is in memory of the French novelist Honoré Balzac. According to Rodin, the sculpture aims to portray the writer’s persona rather than a physical likeness. The work was commissioned in 1891 and after a full-size plaster model was displayed in 1898 it coming under criticism and the model was rejected by the writers’ association and Rodin moved it to his home. Today the artwork is considered the first truly modern sculpture. Casts and various studies of the sculpture can today be found in many different museums.

Rodin met with varying degrees of disapproval from the organisations that sponsored his commissions. As one of the founders of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against tradition, he was schooled traditionally, took a skilled craftsman approach to his work and desired recognition. Fortunately, Rodin did gain support from influential sources that propelled him towards fame. In 1939, nearly 22 years after the Rodin’s death the model was cast in bronze for the first time and placed on the Boulevard du Montparnasse, Paris France.

Honoré de Balzac (1799 – 1850) was a French novelist and playwright. Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted complex characters. Even inanimate objects were imbued with subtle characteristics such as the city of Paris, which takes on many human qualities in his writings. His writing influenced many famous writers, as well as philosophers.

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                      Balzac
  • Artist:                    Auguste Rodin
  • Year:                      Modelled in clay1887;  Cast in bronze 1925
  • Place of Origin:   France
  • Material:              Bronze Casting
  • Museum:              Rodin Museum

Artist Essential Facts:


“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Auguste Rodin



Photo Credit: By Joyofmuseums (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons