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Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

Buste de George Bernard Shaw

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Rodin, A.
Buste de George Bernard Shaw
signed 'A. Rodin' (lower right); inscribed with foundry mark 'ALEXIS RUDIER. FONDEUR. PARIS' (on the back); with raised signature 'A. Rodin' (on the inside)
bronze with green and black patina
Height: 20 in. (52 cm.)
Conceived and cast in 1906
George Bernard Shaw (acquired from the artist, 1906).
Norton Simon, California.
Gift from the above to the late owner.
G.B. Shaw, "When Rodin 'sculpted' me," American Art Student, New York, 2, no. 7, March 1918, pp. 4 and 5.
J. B. Greene and M. D. Herter, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, New York, 1945, pp. 206-207.
A.E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, pp. 125-128.
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 535-538, no. 94 (marble version illustrated, p. 538, pl. 94-2).
London, The New Galleries, The International Society's Seventh Exhibition, January-March 1907, no. 280.

Lot Essay

George Bernard Shaw posed for Rodin in April 1906 in Meudon. The playwright was accompanied by his wife, who commissioned a marble bust and a bronze cast of the final version for the sum of 25,100FF. According to John Tancock, the artist was impressed by Shaw's head, but for reasons that were disputed by Anthony Ludovici and Ren Chruy, both of whom worked for Rodin at the time of Shaw's sitting. By Ludovici's account, Rodin described Shaw's head as "une vraie tte de Christ" (A. M. Ludovici, Personal Reminiscences of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia and London, 1926, p. 121). Chruy, however, implied that Rodin was inspired by Shaw's more diabolical qualities:

"The sculptor was impressed by the peculiar features of the great writer's face--the hair parted in two standing locks, the forked beard, the sneering mouth, the inquisitive nose. 'Suddenly,' as Chruy remembered it, 'Rodin interrupted his work and said, "Do you know, you look like--like the devil!" And Bernard Shaw, with a smile, replied, 'But I am the devil!'"(H.C. Rice, "Glimpses of Rodin," Princeton University Library Chronicle, Princeton, 27, no. I, Autumn 1965, pp. 33-44).

This bronze cast was ordered from the Alexis Rudier foundry in September 1906 and delivered to the Shaws in London on 18 October 1906. Rodin requested that the bronze version be included in an exhibtion at the New Galleries in London as hommage to the British collectors who supported him. Shaw presented the marble bust to the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in Dublin in October 1908 but retained this bronze version for his collection.

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