French Sculpture Census

crédits photo : David Heald / Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
© artiste : public domain

RODIN, Auguste
Paris 1840 - Meudon, Hauts-de-Seine 1917

Balzac, dernière étude pour le tête
Balzac, Final Study for the Head [Museum's Title: Head of Balzac]

modèle de 1897

19,1 x 20,3 x 16,5
au revers: A. Rodin

N° d'inv. : 1985.A.32
Credit Line : Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas, Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, Nasher Sculpture Center


  • New York, Margit Chanin, Ltd.
  • New York, Collection Lester Avnett
  • New York, Stanley Moss & Company, Inc.
  • 1985, Dallas, Texas, Collection Raymond et Patsy Nasher


  • 1998 Le Normand-Romain
    1898 : Le Balzac de Rodin, catalogue d'exposition, sous la direction d’Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, Paris, Musée Rodin, 1998, pp. 350-352, Balzac, dernière étude pour la tête, 1897, this copy is mentioned / cet exemplaire est cité p. 351, n°99
  • 2003 Nash, Giménez and Brenson
    Steven A. Nash, Carmen Giménez, Michael Brenson, A Century of Sculpture: The Nasher Collection, Dallas, The Nasher Foundation, 2003 (first published in 1997, expanded and republished in 2003 by The Nasher Foundation on the occasion of the inauguration in October 2003 of the Nasher Sculpture Center), p. 66-67, repr., 365
  • 2007 Le Normand-Romain (français)
    Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, avec la collaboration d'Hélène Marraud et Diane Tytgat, introductions par Dr. Ruth Butler et Mr. Régis Cusinberche, Les Bronzes de Rodin. Catalogue des œuvres au Musée Rodin, 2 volumes, Paris, Musée Rodin / Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 177-179, Balzac, dernière étude pour la tête, 1897, cet exemplaire non mentionné dans ce catalogue
  • 2007 Le Normand-Romain (English)
    Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, with the collaboration of Hélène Marraud and Diane Tytgat, introductions by Dr. Ruth Butler and Mr. Régis Cusinberche, The Bronzes of Rodin. Catalogue of works in the Musée Rodin, 2 volumes, English version, Paris, Musée Rodin / Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2007, vol. 1, pp. 177-179, Balzac, Final Study for the Head, 1897, this bronze not mentioned in this catalogue


  • Museum's website:
  • 1963 New York
    Rodin, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1963. Exhibition catalogue.
  • 1987-1989 Dallas/Washington/Madrid/Florence/Tel Aviv
    A Century of Modern Sculpture: The Patsy and Raymond Nasher Collection, Dallas Museum of Art, April 5 - May 31, 1987; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., June 28, 1987 - January 3, 1988; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, April 4 - June 5, 1988; Forte Belvedere, Florence, Italy, July 8 - October 16, 1988; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, January 1 - March 31, 1989. Exhibition catalogue.
  • 1997 New York
    A Century of Sculpture: The Nasher Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 6, 1997 - June 1, 1997. Exhibition catalogue.
  • 2003-2004 Dallas
    From Rodin to Calder: Masterworks of Modern Sculpture from the Nasher Collection, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, October 20, 2003 - September 2004.
  • 2005-2006 Durham
    The Evolution of the Nasher Collection, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, October 2005 - May 2006. Exhibition catalogue


Museum's website:
Between 1891 and 1898, Rodin created numerous partial and full-figure studies for his large-scale monument honoring the great nineteenth-century writer Honoré de Balzac. This small-scale head is close to the version used in the final monument, a study of which stands nearby in this gallery.
This Head of Balzac corresponds to Athena Tacha Spear's "type W" in her classification of the many discrete studies of the head and features of Honoré de Balzac prepared by Auguste Rodin during the protracted evolution of his large-scale Monument to Balzac (Spear, 1967, 1974, passim).
He had received the commission for a sculpture commemorating this great nineteenth-century writer in 1891 from the Société des Gens de Lettres in Paris.
With characteristic thoroughness, Rodin steeped himself in his subject through lengthy investigation. Work on the commission passed through two stages between 1891 and 1898, but Rodin's conception changed continually, as evidenced by the many surviving studies of both the head and full figure, progressing from a relatively naturalistic depiction of a young man to a more romantic image of an aged visionary.
For an attempt to place the individual heads, which number over twenty, in a chronological sequence, see Spear (1967, 1974).
The study in the Nasher collection was made late in the series and approaches closely the final sculpture, with its wild shock of hair, roughly modeled features, and deep-set eyes. Although it was generally Rodin's practice to make more than one plaster cast of each of his works, the Nasher plaster is the only one thus far identified of this type in this scale (affirmed by Albert Elsen in correspondence, 1981). Nor has it been possible to trace the provenance of this piece beyond Margit Chanin.
The popularity of this general type, however, is indicated by the range of casts in other materials and dimensions.
Numerous bronze casts are known (Spear, 1967, pp. 91-92; 1974, pp. 124-25 S), and an enlarged plaster (19 ½ inches), formerly in the McCrory Corporation Collection, is now in the Milwaukee Art Museum.
In addition, there are four stoneware casts measuring approximately 18 inches, as well as two bronze casts of this version.
A special feature of the Nasher plaster is the varnished surface, which has aged to a rich amber tonality.