“Lost” Rodin moves to Philadelphia

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We reported recently on a long-lost Rodin sculpture of Napoleon which was identified by a Drew University art history student while taking inventory at the Madison (NJ) Borough Hall. Once they realized what a valuable item they had on their hands, and without the insurance needed to cover it, they sent it out on loan.

Well, it’s now on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as you can see in the pictures below. But the museum provides some information which is news to me: while it is indeed a “Rodin sculpture,” the way that the Philadelphia Museum credits it is this: “modeled in clay, 1904,” presumably by Rodin, but “carved by Alfred Jean Halou … (and) Ernest Nivet.” I guess this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, since many significant artists throughout art history have had studio assistants, but for some reason – perhaps naively – I just assumed Rodin carved his own sculptures. Certainly the modeling of the form involved Rodin’s artistic genius, but there’s part of me that feels like he didn’t put in the hard work to sculpt it, and isn’t that part of the definition of being a “sculptor?” If you have thoughts on this, please share in the comments section below.

Long lost Napoleon bust by Rodin found in Madison NJ

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