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Lord Howard de Walden (1880-1946) was a wealthy British landowner and patron of the arts. He greatly admired Rodin’s work, and commissioned this portrait in 1905, when the artist was at the height of his renown. De Walden travelled to Rodin’s studio at Meudon, on the outskirts of Paris, to sit for the sculpture. The pose is frontal and, unusually for Rodin, the sitter’s expression is passive and calm. According to a story told by his wife, the medal-like marks on the chest of the bust were made during an interval between sittings when de Walden and Rodin discussed heraldry.

Auguste Rodin was born in Paris in 1840 and died in Meudon in 1917.

August 2004