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ID number:  BIRBI-62.2
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Besnard, Albert (1849-1934)
Title / Object name:  Auguste Rodin
Object type:  Print
Culture:  French
Date made:  1900
Materials:  Etching
Measurements:  Plate: 270 x 200; paper: 325 x 260 mm; mount: 555 x 405 mm
Provenance:  Purchased from Colnaghi's, April 1962, for £14

This portrait of the renowned sculptor captures the intimacy of the friendship between the two artists. A skilled draughtsman with a keen eye for detail, Besnard is known for revealing a sitter’s personality in his portraits. Presented here against a blank background and in simple crisp line, Rodin is shown with furrowed brow, suggesting his absorption in art. In spite of his public success and recognition – with international exhibitions, honorary degrees and prestigious public commissions – Rodin was a naturally shy man.

With his furrowed brow and focused gaze, the great sculptor Rodin
is shown as intense and stoic. Besnard and Rodin enjoyed a long
friendship which latterly became fractious when Besnard alleged
that Rodin was becoming self-centred. By focusing on the subject
from the shoulders up, Besnard depicts his sitter in a manner
similar to a marble bust. The portrait is reminiscent of Rodin’s
celebrated Bust of Victor-Henri Rochefort which presides over the
Barber’s gallery stairs. Besnard was known for his skill at capturing
personalities through his draughtsmanship, and Rodin was indeed
described by contemporaries as a reserved and serious.

1 Related People

Besnard, Albert
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