Auguste Rodin

Lord Howard de Walden


In Tate Britain

Auguste Rodin 1840–1917
Object: 525 × 521 × 273 mm, 17.5 kg
Presented by Lord Howard de Walden 1939

Display caption

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.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Auguste Rodin 1840-1917

N05034 Lord Howard de Walden 1905-6

Inscribed 'A. Rodin' on the sitter's l. shoulder and 'ALEXIS RUDIER | FONDEUR. PARIS' on the back of the r. shoulder
Bronze, 21 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 10 3/4 (54.5 x 52 x 27.5)
Presented by Lord Howard de Walden 1939
Exh: Works by Auguste Rodin, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1917-18 (works not numbered, dated 1906); on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum 1917-37, and to the Tate Gallery from 1937 until presented; RSA, Edinburgh, April-August 1954 (62); Rodin, Arts Council touring exhibition, November 1966-December 1967 (31); Rodin: Sculpture and Drawings, Hayward Gallery, London, January-April 1970 (117, repr.) ; on loan to the Bethnal Green Museum, London, since 1970
Lit: Judith Cladel, Auguste Rodin: L'Oeuvre et l'Homme (Brussels 1908), p.160 (dated 1906); Léonce Bénédite, Rodin (London 1924), p.30 (Musée Rodin cast, which has additions to the lower part, repr. pl.48A); Anthony M. Ludovici, Personal Reminiscences of Auguste Rodin (London 1926), pp.118-20; Anita Leslie, Rodin, Immortal Peasant (London 1939), pp.185-6; Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin (Paris 1944), No.358, Musée Rodin cast repr.; Jennifer Hawkins, Victoria and Albert Museum: Rodin Sculptures (London 1975), No.21, p.29, repr. pls.30 and 31

The Rt. Hon. Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, eighth Baron Howard de Walden (1880-1946), succeeded his father in 1899. A wealthy landowner with estates in London in Marylebone and north of Regent's Park, near Primrose Hill, he was also a writer and patron of the arts, and a sportsman. He wrote the libretti for Josef Holbrooke's operatic trilogy The Cauldron of Annwyn and was a Trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1938 to 1946.

In 1905 he commissioned Rodin, whom he thought to be the greatest living sculptor, to make his bust. Writing to him on 25 August 1905, Rodin thanked him for £480 for a marble of 'The Benedictions' and said how delighted he was with Lord Howard de Walden's impressions in his studio. 'I think', he went on, 'with regard to your wish to come to Paris in October that we could begin on 15 October and finish perhaps on 30 October.' Several letters then follow which show that Lord Howard de Walden called at Meudon - presumably for sittings - in November and that by the end of December a bust was already in existence, though still unfinished. 'Monsieur Georg [sic] Moore came to call on me. Unfortunately he couldn't see the bust as I shall only prepare it when you come' (letter of 23 December 1905). By December of the following year the marble and the first bronze cast were nearly ready for dispatch. Rodin made for Lord Howard de Walden altogether one marble (now in the possession of the present Lord Howard de Walden) and four bronzes; two further bronze casts belong to the Musée Rodin in Paris and the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp.

Margherita, Lady Howard de Walden, recalled that her husband told her the medal-like marks on the chest were made in an interval of the sittings while they discussed some armorial or historical point of heraldry (letter of 11 July 1954). The marble is similar in pose to the bronzes, and is also completely frontal, but its lower part is in the form of a massive rectangular slab.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.648-9, reproduced p.648

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