A Closer Look
What expression has Auguste Rodin given his Monument to Balzac? What does it tell you about the writer? Rodin was an Impressionist, interested in how light affected an object. As you look at this and other sculptures by Rodin notice how they reflect light off their rough surfaces. Create your own sculpture of a person. Give it an expression and make it rough on its surface, to catch the light as you move around it.
About the Sculpture
Honore` de Balzac was a great French novelist. Rodin worked on this statue of him for seven years, trying out different poses of the writer using models who looked like him. Finally Rodin sculpted him standing up, wrapped in a robe such as Balzac wore when he wrote at night. When Rodin exhibited the plaster model of his artwork in 1898, no one liked it. Critics called it "a sack of coal, a snowman, a seal." Rodin took the model home. It was not cast in bronze until many years after he died.
About the Artist
Auguste Rodin had a major influence on 20th century sculpture but he faced a lot of difficulty in his artistic career. He was rejected three times from the famous French art school, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Later on he studied in Italy, where the works of Michelangelo made a great impression on him. During his lifetime many people did not understand Rodin's work, but now we think of him as one of the world's greatest sculptors.