In 1891 Auguste Rodin was commissioned to make a commemorative statue of the famous French novelist Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850). With great thoroughness Rodin studied all existing portraits of Balzac, read all the books about him and paid several visits to Touraine, the area where the writer was born, to study local physiognomy. This head is part of a full length study. Rodin said he wished to show the writer ‘as if I had lived with him for years’, and modelled an image of him ‘in his study, breathless, hair in disorder, eyes lost in a dream’.
Auguste Rodin was born in Paris in 1840 and died in Meudon in 1917.