Auguste Rodin was commissioned to create a monument dedicated to the famous French writer Honoré de Balzac in 1891. In an effort to capture the author’s essence, Rodin made multiple preparatory studies of him, including this nude study depicting him in the stance of a wrestler. This approach allowed Rodin to focus on the underlying structure of Balzac’s form and convey his personality through his poses.
Throughout his artistic process, Rodin experimented with various clothing options for Balzac, including a frock coat and a monk’s habit. However, he ultimately decided on including the author’s dressing gown in the final Monument to Balzac as it was emblematic of his preferred attire when working from home.
Rodin undertook extensive research before beginning work on the sculpture by studying photos and portraits, reading descriptions of Balzac, and even visiting his birthplace to sketch individuals that resembled him. The Monument to Balzac took seven years to create as it went through different stages while Rodin explored various methods for representing Balzac’s genius.