Auguste Rodin, 'The Duchesse de Choiseul'

Auguste Rodin, 'The Duchesse de Choiseul'

Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
'The Duchesse de Choiseul' (1864-1919)
Bronze
1908
Height 36.5 cm
Stamped by the founder 'Montagutelli Fres. Paris. Cire Perdue' on the back of the sitter's left shoulder
Museum no. A.45-1914
Given by the artist

The Duchesse de Choiseul was an American of French descent. Born Claire Coudert, she married the Duke de Choiseul in 1891. She enjoyed a close friendship with Rodin from about 1904 until he ended their relationship in 1912. Rodin called her his 'little bacchante' but his friends thought her a bad influence as she dominated his life, interfered with his work and encouraged the elderly sculptor to drink. She was, however, responsible for introducing Rodin to the American millionaire Thomas Ryan, who was instrumental in introducing his work to the USA. (See Museum no. A.48-1914)

Rodin and his friend and subject, the Duchesse de Choiseul (1864-1919). (click image for larger version)

Both this portrait and its companion (Museum no. A.46-1914) are close studies of an intimate friend rather than formal, commissioned works. Rodin was completely free to observe and draw the duchess in a most natural way, capturing her vigour and lively personality. In this version she is smiling, her lips parted. In both versions, her hair is shown springing suddenly from her forehead, an indication that she wore false hair.