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Buste de l'Âge d'Airain (Bust of the Age of Bronze)
Unique patinated terracotta
Height: 8½" (21.2 cm)
Conceived between 1875 and 1876, cast in this unique reduction circa 1917
Promised gift of Rodin to Auguste Neyt, the sitter for the model Leonce; Benedicte, executor of the Rodin’s estate;?Mr and Mrs Auguste Neyt, 1924; thence by descent; Private Collection, USA.
This unique terracotta bust, conceived between 1875 and 1876, and cast in this reduction in 1917, is the head of the controversial figure known as the Age of Bronze. When Rodin first exhibited the work in 1877, the quality of the modelling was such that he was accused of having cast the work directly from life - in other words, taking a cast of a living human body and casting in bronze. Indeed, Rodin had to enlisted the help of the Belgian soldier who sat as model, to give evidence on behalf of him. Nonetheless, Rodin gained two significant benefits from this initial rejection, firstly the work became notorious and increased his reputation and secondly, this incident shaped the rest of Rodin's career as he never again made a life size work opting instead for over life size or smaller than life size.
Rodin was re-united with his model for the sculpture, Auguste Neyt, 30 years after he sat for Rodin. To commemorate the meeting Rodin promised Neyt a terracotta bust of the sculpture. The gift was finally received by the model in 1924 from the executor of Rodin’s estate, Léonce Bénédite. The work is accompanied with the original correspondence from Rodin, Rose Beuret (the artist’s partner) and Léonce Bénédite, to Auguste Neyt, giving the piece an extra historical significance and testament to the artist’s and model’s relationship in the early 20th Century.
There are no other versions of this terracotta in private or public collections.
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