This bronze is based on a full length marble statue of François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778), the French author and philisopher, which was executed by Houdon in 1781. "What a marvel it is", Auguste Rodin said when he first saw this portrait of Voltaire. "It is the personification of malice. See! his sidelong glance seems watching some adversary. He has the pointed nose of a fox... You can see it quiver! And the mouth - what a triumph! It is framed by two furrows of irony. It seems to murmle sarcasm." (M. Forrest, Art Bronzes, West Chester, 1988, p. 14.)
Another cast of this bust is illustrated in M. Forrest, Art Bronzes, West Chester, 1988, p. 50.