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Bust - Thomas F. Ryan
  • Thomas F. Ryan
    Rodin, Auguste, born 1840 - died 1917
  • Enlarge image

Thomas F. Ryan

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1909 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rodin, Auguste, born 1840 - died 1917 (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given to the Victoria and Albert Museum by Rodin in 1914

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 21, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case WN

Thomas Ryan (1851-1928) was a member of the stock exchange in his early twenties and subsequently a very successful businessman with coal mines, railroad companies, tobacco interests, and insurance. He became a multimillionaire. He was almost certainly introduced to Rodin by the Duchesse de Choiseul (Museum nos. A.45 and A.46-1914) in 1908 and played a major role in promoting his work in the USA. In 1910 he financed the purchase of ten of Rodin's works for the Metropolitan Museum, New York, which became the core of their Rodin collection, displayed in the new Rodin Gallery there in 1912 alongside small plasters and a bronze cast of the bust of Ryan which Rodin had presented to the Museum the previous year.

Ryan sat for his portrait at the Hôtel Biron (now the Musée Rodin) in 1909, shortly after Rodin had rented studio space there. As neither spoke the other's language, the sittings were conducted in silence. Rodin's portrait captures the strength of Ryan's character as well as his physical power - he was broad-shouldered and over six feet tall. Versions in bronze, silver and marble were made for Ryan's own collection, all of them delivered by 1910. This bust, closely related to the one in New York, was given to the V&A by Rodin in 1914.

Physical description

Bronze bust of Thomas F. Ryan, with two inscriptions.

Place of Origin

France (made)


1909 (made)


Rodin, Auguste, born 1840 - died 1917 (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

A. Rodin
inscription signed twice, on the front right and also in relief on the under surface

Marked on back of the right shoulder


Height: 450 mm, Width: 800 mm, Weight: 42 kg, Depth: 600 mm

Descriptive line

Bust in bronze, 'Thomas Fortune Ryan' by Auguste Rodin, French, 1909

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Catalogue of Sculpture by Auguste Rodin. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1925. pp. 18-19
Hawkins, Jennifer, Rodin Sculptures London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1975, p.31, ill.36
Butler, Ruth and Glover Lindsay, Suzanne, European Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century, Washington, National Gallery of Art, distributed by Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 2000. pp. 399-402.
Mitchell, Claudine. The Gift to the British Nation: Rodin at the V&A. In: Mitchell, Claudine. ed.Rodin: The Zola of Sculpture. Henry Moore Institute, 2003. pp. 183-200.
Alley, R. Tate Gallery Catalogue: Foreign Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. London, 1959. pp. 221-222.
Antoinette, Le Normand-Romain. The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin. London : Lund Humphries ; Paris : Éditions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2007. pp. 634-635.

Labels and date

Thomas Fortune Ryan (1851-1928) was an American millionaire and collector, whom Rodin met in 1909. He thought Rodin a genius and played a significant role in establishing his reputation in America, paying for ten works by Rodin for the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and setting up a fund for further purchases. He ordered versions of this portrait in bronze, silver and marble. [March 2007]




Bust; Sculpture


Sculpture Collection

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