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124

PROPERTY FROM THE LÉON LHERMITTE COLLECTION

Auguste Rodin
MASQUE DE L'HOMME AU NEZ CASSÉ, VERSION DITE TYPE I, DEUXIÈME MODÈLE
Estimate
150,000200,000
LOT SOLD. 360,500 EUR
JUMP TO LOT
124

PROPERTY FROM THE LÉON LHERMITTE COLLECTION

Auguste Rodin
MASQUE DE L'HOMME AU NEZ CASSÉ, VERSION DITE TYPE I, DEUXIÈME MODÈLE
Estimate
150,000200,000
LOT SOLD. 360,500 EUR
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist and Modern Art

|
Paris

Auguste Rodin
1840 - 1917
MASQUE DE L'HOMME AU NEZ CASSÉ, VERSION DITE TYPE I, DEUXIÈME MODÈLE
bronze
height: 31 cm; 12 1/8 in.
Conceived before 1881, this example cast in bronze by the foundry Gruet jeune in March 1883.
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This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Critique de l'oeuvre sculpté d'Auguste Rodin being currently prepared by Galerie Brame & Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay under the archive number 2016-4871B.

Provenance

Léon Lhermitte, Paris (gift from the artist in October 1883)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Literature

Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Rodin et le bronze, Catalogue des œuvres conservées au Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. II, mentioned p. 413-415, another version illustrated fig. 4 p. 415
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, La Sculpture triomphante 1850-1880, Paris, 2018, illustrated p. 120

Catalogue Note

L'Homme au nez cassé is a portrait of “Bibi”, an old man who made a living doing odd jobs in artists’ studios and who was a popular model in Carrier-Belleuse’s studio where Rodin worked. Rodin was captivated by his battered features, his broken nose and the distinctive shape of his face where every wrinkle was deeply furrowed.  By only showing a head, without the broader context of a body, Rodin not only acknowledged his Symbolist influences, but he also alluded to antiquity through the strength of his model. He captured an inner sense of tragic despair and allowed the naked soul to be seen through a characterful face. The Austrian writer Rainer Maria Rilke expressed the sculptor’s importance and artistic development as follows: “The Man with the Broken Nose [L’Homme au nez cassé] had revealed how Rodin sought his way through a face…”
This work, which was hugely successful, was adapted by Rodin more than 12 times, with each version distinguished by the inclination of the head and the degree to which the back of the head was open. This cast-iron work by Gruet corresponds to the first version which was begun at the end of 1862 or during 1863, when Rodin was only 23 years old. It is the closest to the original design: a mask with the neck to the breastbone. The second version, made in 1872 and transformed into a bust, shows influences from ancient sculpture, while the third version, which is no longer a mask but a head, dates from 1882 and is used in La Porte de l’Enfer. There, one can see the resemblance with the work Michelangelo by the Italian Mannerist sculptor Daniele da Volterra.
The subject of L’Homme au nez cassé set an artistic precedent and was echoed in particular by Rodin’s contemporaries and the artists who were regularly part of his circle at the Café Américain.
Léon Lhermitte, the renowned Naturalist painter from Aisne, who sat for Camille Claudel and was a friend and neighbour of Auguste Rodin, revealed his attachment to this work, which he had in his collection, in a letter to Rodin dated 25 October 1883:
“My dear friend,
Many thanks for the superb mask with the broken nose that I just received. It is just as beautiful as the one my friend Cazin owns – that’s no small feat.
Since unwrapping it, I have been in complete admiration, and today I am experiencing the same pleasure I had when I saw it for the first time.
I’m planning to be in Paris at the start of November. No doubt I will see you.”

Rodin considered L’Homme au nez cassé to be his first good piece of sculpture. However, he was offended that the work was rejected by the Salon. Although it made reference to Ancient Roman portraits, L’Homme au nez cassé departed from the standards of the time through its realism and its very nature: the plasterwork presented is not a real bust but a mask, breaking with the academic conventions of the period. The reason for this was an accident: the gel broke the plaster model and reduced the head to a mask. Nevertheless, Rodin embraced the setback and decided to present it at the Salon anyway. Through his revolutionary approach, Rodin created a work which paved the way for the revolutionary developments and avant-garde movements of the 20th century. 

Impressionist and Modern Art

|
Paris