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Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
Mozart, also known as Eighteenth-Century Man
H. 50, 9 cm ; W. 99,7 cm ; D. 58 cm
Signed and dated A. Rodin.
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The portrait was inspired by the head of the composer Gustav Mahler, whose bronze bust Rodin had made in 1909. Shown at the Salon that same year entitled Eighteenth-Century Man, by 1914 it was known as the marble bust of Mozart. Like many of the works dating from this period, the portrait of Puvis de Chavannes, for example, the head emerges from a block of very roughhewn marble and the sculptor plays on the contrasting surfaces of the stone.
However, the manner in which the present portrait was conceived is perhaps worth emphasizing. The face of Gustav Malher became that of Music itself, incarnated by Mozart, the absolute musician. The portrait thus turns into a sort of allegory, which is by no means rare in Rodin’s work;one may recall France and Aurora, with the face of Camille Claudel, or the portraits using Mrs Russell as a starting point.