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Monument to Victor Hugo
F. Bianchi (Active in Paris in the early 20th century
Trial Installation, in the Gardens of the Palais Royal, Paris
Matt collodion aristotype print
H. 17.5 cm ; W. 23.5 cm
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Commissioned in 1889, the Monument to Victor Hugo portrays the poet seated in a contemplative pose. It should have been erected outside the Panthéon, but since its composition was judged to be too confused, the local authorities found it a home in the gardens of the Palais Royal. Documentary evidence of trial installations of monuments on a site is rare. These pictures of a provisional plaster model, taken by F. Bianchi at Rodin’s request, are therefore all the more valuable.
Bianchi shows us the various stages leading up to the final installation of the marble. This illustrated report highlights the importance of the setting – the very graphic silhouette of the bare tree, the emphatic black lines of its branches. One of the photographs gave rise to the metaphor coined by the press of a boat lying high and dry, whereas Rodin saw “tormented branches buffeted by the sea wind”.