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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition

Inner Voice (The Muse)

Figure
ca. 1896- ca. 1897 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Rodin frequently explored the further possibilities that arose from existing projects, revisiting the form, scale, material and, most significantly, the intention of his ideas. 'The Muse' began as small-scale figure on the tympanum (rectangular panel) immediately above the bronze 'Gates of Hell' doors for the new Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris, which Rodin was asked to design in 1880.

Rodin later developed the figure as 'The Inner Voice', one of two muses intended for the monument in Paris to the writer Victor Hugo, commissioned in 1886. His composition showed a naked Hugo flanked by two naked muses. The commissioners rejected this proposal as unsuitable for its proposed location in the Panthéon, though they allowed him to continue with the project.

After many revisions, Rodin ended up producing this figure. He cut off the arms and removed drapery that covered the knee, which signalled Rodin's increasingly conceptual approach to sculpture. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who worked as Rodin's secretary for a time, wrote of it, …'again and again in his figures Rodin returned to this bending inward, to this intense listening to one's own depth… Never was human body assembled to such an extent about its inner self, so bent by its own soul'. Rodin himself said of it: 'My figure represents 'Meditation'. That is why it has neither arms to act nor legs to walk. Haven't you noticed that reflection, when persisted in, suggests so many plausible arguments for opposite directions that it ends in inertia?'
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object details
Category
Object Type
Additional TitleMeditation (alternative title)
Materials and Techniques
Bronze
Brief Description
Inner Voice (The Muse), French, bronze, by Auguste Rodin, about 1896-7
Dimensions
  • Width: 77cm
  • Depth: 57cm
  • Height: 144.5cm
  • Weight: 200.5kg
Marks and Inscriptions
  • A.Rodin (Inscribed on the upper surface of the base)
  • Alexis. Rudier./Fondeur. Paris (Inscribed on the back of the base)
Gallery Label
  • This is a variant of an allegorical statue representing The Inner Voice, intended for the monument to Victor Hugo in Paris, but unused. Rodin subsequently adapted it to create the present composition, amputating the arms and leaving the legs incomplete. He said: 'My figure reprsents "Meditation". That's why it has neither arms to act nor legs to walk. Haven't you noticed that reflection, when persisted in, suggest so many plausible arguments for opposite decisions that it ends in inertia?'.(June 2006)
  • Originally a small figure on the Gates of Hell, this was reworked for the monument to the French writer Victor Hugo. Later, Rodin reduced the form to the minimum, amputating the arms and removing the drapery around the knees. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of it, 'Never was the human body so bent by its own soul.'(March 2007)
Credit line
Given by Rodin in November 1914
Object history
Given by the artist in 1914
Summary
Rodin frequently explored the further possibilities that arose from existing projects, revisiting the form, scale, material and, most significantly, the intention of his ideas. 'The Muse' began as small-scale figure on the tympanum (rectangular panel) immediately above the bronze 'Gates of Hell' doors for the new Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris, which Rodin was asked to design in 1880.



Rodin later developed the figure as 'The Inner Voice', one of two muses intended for the monument in Paris to the writer Victor Hugo, commissioned in 1886. His composition showed a naked Hugo flanked by two naked muses. The commissioners rejected this proposal as unsuitable for its proposed location in the Panthéon, though they allowed him to continue with the project.



After many revisions, Rodin ended up producing this figure. He cut off the arms and removed drapery that covered the knee, which signalled Rodin's increasingly conceptual approach to sculpture. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who worked as Rodin's secretary for a time, wrote of it, …'again and again in his figures Rodin returned to this bending inward, to this intense listening to one's own depth… Never was human body assembled to such an extent about its inner self, so bent by its own soul'. Rodin himself said of it: 'My figure represents 'Meditation'. That is why it has neither arms to act nor legs to walk. Haven't you noticed that reflection, when persisted in, suggests so many plausible arguments for opposite directions that it ends in inertia?'
Bibliographic References
  • Potts, Alex, The Sculptural Imagination, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2000, pp.88-90, ill. 42, small scale plaster version.
  • Elsen, Albert E., Rodin's Art, the Rodin Collection of the Iris & B Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2003, p.244.
  • 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. 212-213.
  • [Exhibition Catalogue] Rodin: Sculpture & Drawings. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1986. Exhibition held Hayward Gallery, London, 1986-1987. p. 212.
  • Chevillot, Catherine & Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette, eds. Rodin: Le livre du centenaire, exh. cat., 2017, p. 216, cat. 197.
  • Lampert, Catherine, Rodin, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 2006
  • Lampert, Catherine, Rodin, Sculpture and Drawings, Hayward Gallery, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1986
Collection
Accession Number
A.36-1914

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record createdJune 5, 2007
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