La France thumbnail 1
La France thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 21, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries

La France

Bust
1906-1912 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This work originated from a portrait of the gifted sculptress, Camille Claudel (1864-1943), Rodin's pupil and mistress. However, it was made some years after they had separated and her features were mixed with those of another sitter, Mariana Russell, at the various stages of evolution of the design of this work. A photograph of 1903 by Bulloz of 'Work in Progress: La France' shows this, the final version, originated from a cast of Claudel's face. In earlier versions, the head faced to its right (as in a version Rodin presented to Glasgow University when he was awarded an honorary degree in 1906), but it was later reversed. At various times it was re-used and re-titled including as 'St George' from at least 1904 (the title Rodin gave to the Glasgow version), 'Byzantine Princess' and 'Empress of the Late Roman Empire'. In 1912, the head, with the title of 'France' was unveiled as part of - and the country France's contribution to - a monument to Samuel Champlain in New York. This was its title when Rodin presented this head to the V&A in 1914.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Bronze
Brief Description
Bust, bronze, 'La France' by Auguste Rodin, French
Physical Description
High relief comprising bust (a likeness of the gifted sculptress Camille Claudel) set into an arched recess within a panel.
Dimensions
  • Height: 63.5cm
  • Width: 55.9cm
  • Weight: 23kg
Marks and Inscriptions
  • A. Rodin' (1) Signature; On the drapery)
  • 'Alexis. Rudier. Fondeur. Paris.' (Inscription; decoration; On the background)
Gallery Label
This is a likeness of the gifted sculptor Camille Claudel, Rodin's pupil, assistant and lover. Several variants of the work exist, each with different titles. He named the present cast La France when showing it in London in 1914. By framing the head against a niche set in a vertical sheet of bronze, he controls the viewpoint and the way his work occupies space.(March 2007)
Credit line
Given by Rodin in November 1914
Object history
Originally the head faced to its right, but it was reversed and renamed 'St George' for a visit by Edward VII to Rodin's studio in 1908. At various other times the head was used by Rodin and retitled as the occasion demanded. In 1904 it was known as 'Byzantine Empress' and 'Bust of a Young Warrior'; in 1906 the head was reversed from the original position facing right, it was presented to the University of Glasgow which had given Rodin an honorary degree. When Rodin presented the work to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1914 it was patriotically renamed 'La France'.
Summary
This work originated from a portrait of the gifted sculptress, Camille Claudel (1864-1943), Rodin's pupil and mistress. However, it was made some years after they had separated and her features were mixed with those of another sitter, Mariana Russell, at the various stages of evolution of the design of this work. A photograph of 1903 by Bulloz of 'Work in Progress: La France' shows this, the final version, originated from a cast of Claudel's face. In earlier versions, the head faced to its right (as in a version Rodin presented to Glasgow University when he was awarded an honorary degree in 1906), but it was later reversed. At various times it was re-used and re-titled including as 'St George' from at least 1904 (the title Rodin gave to the Glasgow version), 'Byzantine Princess' and 'Empress of the Late Roman Empire'. In 1912, the head, with the title of 'France' was unveiled as part of - and the country France's contribution to - a monument to Samuel Champlain in New York. This was its title when Rodin presented this head to the V&A in 1914.
Bibliographic References
  • Hawkins, Jennifer. Rodin Sculpture.London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1975, p. 25, illus. 22 and 23
  • Catalogue of Sculpture by Auguste Rodin.London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1925. p. 17. pl. IX.
  • Cf. 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, another version, 1904, accession number 1942.5.9, pp. 376-381.
  • L'Art et les Artistes. no. 109, 1914. p. 12.
  • Alley, R. Tate Gallery Catalogue: Foreign Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. London, 1959. pp. 215-216.
  • 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. ill. 10.1.
  • 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. 371-374.
  • Lampert, Catherine, Rodin, Sculpture and Drawings, Hayward Gallery, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1986
Collection
Accession Number
A.39-1914

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record createdNovember 26, 2002
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