PROPERTY FROM THE YALE UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY, SOLD TO BENEFIT ACQUISITION FUNDS
Beethoven reappeared at intervals throughout Bourdelle’s career. After his initial studies on the topic in the late 1880s and early 1890s, Bourdelle again focused on this subject throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, at which time the present work was created. Peter Cannon-Brookes described this particular series of depictions of the famous composer: “Bourdelle turned again to the theme of Beethoven and the carefully modelled surfaces of his 1888-91 compositions gave way to a much more spontaneous treatment which both echoes the frenzy of the heads in the Montauban monument and prefigures many of the qualities developed in the Modern movement… Bourdelle was seeking to resynthesize forms in accordance with a new, structural displine and to express with greater force the inner ideas, untrammeled by the restraints imposted by mimesis. In recreating the image of Beethoven, Bourdelle achieved, in 1901, the breakthrough which was to lead to Cubism and abstract art" (Peter Cannon-Brookes, op. cit., pp. 33-35).
There are seven known bronze casts of this work and one granite version, which is in the collection of the Musée Bourdelle, Paris.
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