Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Height 33 cm
Museum no. A.40-1914
Given by the artist
By the 1890s the acutely observed naturalistic detail of Rodin's earlier work was replaced by a more conceptual approach that anticipated developments in 20th-century sculpture.
This figure is related to Rodin's studies for Iris, Messenger of the Gods, which was intended to surmount a second but uncompleted version of the monument to Victor Hugo commissioned in 1891. The head, limbs and torso, however, were originally completely separate, pre-existing elements. The fusion of these separately conceived pieces disturbs the equilibrium of the sculpture and creates a sense of dynamic unease.
The head exists in an enlarged form in the Musée Rodin, with the title of Large Head for Iris, though it was also called Head of Demeter. A cast of the enlarged version was also given to the V&A as part of Rodin's 1914 gift. (See Head of Iris, Museum no. A.41-1914)