The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

Colossal Head of Saint John the Baptist

Rodin Museum - Joy of Museums 27

“Colossal Head of Saint John the Baptist” was modelled by Auguste Rodin in 1879 and is just one of multiple depictions of Saint John the Baptist’s image in both full body sculpture and head sculpture.

Rodin described how the idea of Saint John the Baptist’s was inspired by an Italian peasant offered him his services as a model. Rodin stated:

“As soon as I saw him, I was filled with admiration; this rough, hairy man expressed violence in his bearing… yet also the mystical character of his race. I immediately thought of a Saint John the Baptist, in other words, a man of nature, a visionary, a believer, a precursor who came to announce one greater than himself. …. I immediately resolved to model what I had seen.” 

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                     Colossal Head of Saint John the Baptist
  • Year:                     Modelled in clay 1879; cast in bronze 1886
  • Place of Origin:   France
  • Material:              Bronze Casting
  • Dimensions:        21 1/2 × 20 3/4 × 15 3/16 inches (54.6 × 52.7 × 38.6 cm)
  • Museum:              Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Artist Essential Facts:


“I invent nothing, I rediscover.” Auguste Rodin



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