Conceived circa 1885, this bronze was cast by the François Rudier foundry in 1897. The Comité Rodin states that at least 7 casts of this model in this size were produced between 1893 and 1916 by the Griffoul & Lorge, J.B. Griffou, François Rudier and Alexis Rudier foundries. The Georges Rudier foundry cast four editions of the same model for the Musée Rodin between 1962 and 1973, and two more casts were produced by the Émile Godard foundry in 1980.
The Bust of Victor Hugo is sold together with a framed letter of provenance from the first owner of the work – Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Duncan Putnam (1867-1928) – and with an etching signed by the artist.
Auguste Rodin was introduced to the great Romantic Writer Victor Hugo (1802-1885) in 1883 by the journalist Edmond Bazire. The artist produced the first, full-size bronze of the model in the same year, donating it to the sitter. Another bronze cast, produced a few months later, was inscribed with a line from La Légende des Siècles: ‘Un Poète est un monde enfermé dans un Homme’ (A Poet is a World enshrined in a Man) and was shown at the 1884 Salon. The present version of the piece is a ‘reduction’ of Rodin’s initial concept for the work, being roughly 12 cm smaller than the bronze donated by the artist to Hugo.
Purchased from Rodin by Elizabeth D. Putnam (1867-1928) in May-June 1897, thence by descent Comité Rodin certificate available on request.
Exhibited at 'Rodin and America: Influence and Adaptation, 1876-1936', Stanford University Gallery, 2011-2012 The piece was featured in the exhibition at Stanford university Art Gallery, “Rodin and America. Influence and adaptation 1876-1936”, October 2011-January 2012, in art. Rodin and his American collectors by Ana Tahinci, p. 331 listed.