Born in Paris in 1840, Rodin studied drawing at the Petite École alongside fellow sculptor and friend, Aimé-Jules Dalou. After struggling to find work in the French capital, he moved to Belgium at the age of 24 and joined the atelier of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, one of the most fashionable sculptors of the Second French Empire.
Rodin was initially tasked with completing the compositions of other sculptors’ works for interior schemes and decorative objects but was quickly given more creative freedom. It is now widely accepted that several works signed by Carrier-Belleuse were in fact partial or complete works by Rodin.
This particular piece, called Suzon (and occasionally La Petite Manon), was first modelled in 1872 and created shortly after Rodin left the atelier of Carrier-Belleuse. Suzon is characterised by distinct facial features, such as a rounded face, slightly upturned nose and a half-opened mouth showing glimpses of teeth behind petite, yet sensuous lips. The bust demonstrates Rodin’s complete command of his master’s approach to feminine beauty and represents the sculptor’s refined Neo-Rococo style during this period.