The LACMA Sculpture Garden page contains images of sculptures by Auguste Rodin,
Émile-Antoine Bourdelle and Georg Kolbe taken in the Cantor outdoor sculpture garden.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art Index

Assorted Art: Sculptures, Paintings and Decorative Art
Asian and Middle Eastern Art and the Pharaohs of the Sun
LACMA Sculpture Garden: Rodin, Bourdelle and Kolbe
Exteriors: Architecture, Wildlife and La Brea Tar Pits


Gnarly Wood LACMA 3033

Gnarled and twisted Melaleuca Trees in the Cantor Sculpture Garden outside the LA County Museum of Art.

The works in the Cantor Sculpture Garden were donated by Bernard Gerald Cantor, founder and chairman of the securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald, who had assembled the world's largest collection of over 750 Rodin sculptures, more than 450 of which were donated to over 70 art institutions worldwide, and 114 of those were donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Rodin Orpheus 8148

Orpheus (Orphée), Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1890-1900, this cast 1969 (Musée Rodin 6/12)

This sculpture, with its intense torsion and strain, its mixture of exaltation and despair, reflects the complexity of the theme and Rodin's willingness to have his works express the internal conflict and ambiguity of actual experience, even when dealing with a mythological theme. Orpheus was a legendary musician and poet in ancient Greek mythology who had the ability to charm all living things, gods and other deities, and even stones with his music. He perfected the lyre, and was said to be able to coax the trees and rocks to dance with his music. One of the famous stories of Orpheus is his journey to Hell to save his wife Eurydice.

While walking among her people in tall grass at her wedding, Eurydice was set upon by a satyr, and in her efforts to escape, Eurydice fell into a nest of vipers and suffered a fatal bite on her heel. Her body was discovered by Orpheus who, overcome with grief, played such sad and mournful songs that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus travelled to the underworld and by his music softened the hearts of Hades and Persephone (the only person ever to do so). They agreed to allow Eurydice to return with him to earth on one condition: he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the upper world. He set off with Eurydice following, and as soon as he reached the upper world, he turned to look at her, forgetting that both needed to be in the upper world, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever.

Rodin’s Orpheus started as part of his enormous project The Gates of Hell. The sculpture depicts the tragic moment when he loses Eurydice. Rodin did several versions of this sculpture with and without Eurydice. This is the 1892 version without Eurydice. The figure of Orpheus is relatively smooth and his gestures are theatrical but realistic, but his lyre is a formless structure and the tree against which he leans is roughly modeled, the three radically different elements creating a palpable tension. Rodin stated that he intentionally left the tree and the lyre unfinished to give his sculpture “atmosphere”.


Rodin Jean de Fiennes 0791

Jean de Fiennes, Draped, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1885-86, this cast 1987 (Musée Rodin, III of IV)

The final model for one of the six figures for The Burghers of Calais, one of the most famous sculptures by Rodin which was commissioned by the City of Calais as a monument to the six Burghers who had risked their lives to save the citizens of Calais after the 11 month siege of King Edward III of England in 1347, which had reduced the city to the brink of starvation and thirst.

There are over a hundred surviving three-dimensional studies which Rodin created for the Burghers of Calais, including hands, feet, heads, headless figures, facial masks, and complete figures, both nude and dressed as well as the two maquettes. The bodies of the six Burghers were created separately from the heads, and he created the individual clay working models at high speed while watching a group of nude models "selected for their strength of character and a maturity hardened by arduous physical labor or combat". He then created the full-size studies nude before draping the figures. This is the Grand Model study.

The name Jean de Fiennes does not appear in Froissart's Chronicles, where only four of the burghers are mentioned specifically by name. The names of the two unidentified burghers, Jean de Fiennes and Andrieu d'Andres, were discovered in the Vatican Library in 1863. Jeanne de Fiennes was the youngest of the Burghers, and Rodin modeled his figure with arms outspread and mouth open, as if he were questioning his decision to sacrifice himself for the safety of the people of Calais.


Rodin Jean de Fiennes 3019


Rodin Jean de Fiennes 3982

Jean de Fiennes went through the most changes of any of the figures from the first to the second maquettes and through the studies to the Grand Model. The shape of the head, the face and facial expression, the position of the head, body, arms and legs, hands and feet all changed through several studies to the second maquette, when the general position and stance were defined but everything else was still to be refined. The final Grand Model had long wavy hair, lighter drapery with vertical folds revealing the feet, and an expression with lips parted and brow furrowed, that along with the position of the hands gives the figure a doubting disposition as he looks back towards Calais, which he may never see again.


Rodin Jean de Fiennes Jean d'Aire 8125


Rodin Jean de Fiennes 8151

The combination of the theatrical gestures and his facial expression masterfully impart the doubt which
Jean de Fiennes must have felt when departing Calais towards his uncertain fate at the hands of Edward III.


Rodin Jean de Fiennes detail 4321

The youngest Burgher, doubting his decision, looks back towards Calais as he departs to his uncertain fate.

François-Auguste-René Rodin is generally considered to be the progenitor of modern sculpture. Rejected from the École des Beaux-Arts, he developed a naturalistic approach focused on character and emotion, and detested the "academic" rules of the Academy. His first full-scale work, The Age of Bronze, which was executed while the artist was working in Brussels after returning from two months in Italy where he studied Michelangelo and Donatello, was astoundingly realistic and prompted accusations of surmoulage (taking a cast from a living model). He was eventually exonerated by a committee of sculptors after photographs of the model proved his case. His next male nude, St. John the Baptist Preaching, was made larger than life to avoid a repeat of the charge. Controversy continued to follow Rodin throughout his career, primarily because his work clashed with traditional figure sculptures, which were decorative, thematic, and generally composed to a formula. Rodin departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory, modeling the body with realism. He was an incredibly prolific artist who created several thousand busts, figures, sculptural fragments and reliefs over a period of more than five decades.


Rodin St. Pierre d’Aire detail X2648c

Detail of the Burghers of Calais, taken at the Norton Simon Museum, showing the figures of
Eustache de Saint-Pierre and Jean d’Aire (holding the key), the first two Burghers to volunteer
to present themselves to King Edward III along with the keys to the city and citadel. There are only
twelve casts of the Burghers of Calais, four of which are in the US. Further below are a few images
of the complete sculpture. For more, visit the Norton Simon Museum or Rodin Compilation sections.


Rodin Monumental Head Jean d'Aire 0801


Rodin Monumental Head Jean d'Aire 0804

Monumental Head of Jean d'Aire, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1884-86, enlarged 1909-10, this cast 1971 (Musée Rodin 2/12)

Jean d'Aire was the second burgher to volunteer after Eustache de St. Pierre. According to the medieval writer Jean Froissart, he was a "greatly respected and wealthy citizen, who had two beautiful daughters". Rodin modeled him as an older man, with his eyes betraying sadness, yet with his firmly turned-down mouth and forceful jaw exposing an angry strength. The Calais Municipal Council was was not pleased with the apparent dejection of the figures, as they expected the typically heroic monumental sculpture of the period, although Rodin had deliberately labored over the features of the figures in his first maquette which he presented to the Council and from which he was given the commission.


Rodin Monumental Head Jean d'Aire 3021


Rodin Monumental Head Jean d'Aire 8128

In modeling his figures, Rodin sought to capture the personality, intellect and emotion of each subject. Rodin
created numerous fragmentary studies for each figure: heads, hands, feet, headless figures and facial masks.
The bodies of the six Burghers were created separately from the heads, and the faces were intricately modeled.


Rodin Monumental Head Jean d'Aire 3992

The Monumental Head of Jean d’Aire stares resolutely over the Cantor Sculpture Garden.


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 0788


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 0779

Monumental Head of Pierre de Wissant, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1884-1885, enlarged 1909, this cast 1971 (Musée Rodin 3/12)

Pierre de Wissant (or Wiessant depending on the source) was the second youngest and followed his older brother Jacques, who was the third Burgher to volunteer. This is the final form of the Type A head used for the final figure, looking down over his right shoulder, portrayed as an older youth with short hair, his brow knitted tightly, his eyes half shut and his mouth parted.


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 0784


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 4323

I have provided a number of angles and closeups of this exceptionally expressive head taken in different light.


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 0773c


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 0775c

Rodin did many studies to explore the character and pose of each burgher before deciding on the details of the final monument. In his head studies, he focused on depth of emotion as reflected in their faces. The Monumental Head of Pierre de Wissant is an enlarged version of the final head study in which Rodin depicted a youth in the face of death.


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 3984


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 3990

Rodin believed that the attributes of the surface of a sculpture could help determine the emotional content. His rough, expressive modeling of the surface would catch the light and add a vital, emotional impact to his work. In his day, sculptures were either placed outside or were lit indoors by flickering candles or gas-lights. The variable or flickering light would reflect off of his expressively modeled surfaces, changing the character of the sculpture.


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 4324


Rodin Monumental Head Pierre de Wissant 4325

The enlarged final head study of Pierre de Wissant for The Burghers of Calais.


Rodin Burghers Pierre de Wissant 7720


Rodin Burghers Pierre de Wissant 7722

Detail of Pierre de Wissant from Rodin’s monumental sculpture The Burghers of Calais.

Rodin created many studies of Pierre de Wissant, experimenting with various body types and poses. In the
final monument the burgher looks back over his shoulder, his hand extended as if in despair. His face shows
great anguish and the intensity of his emotions give him the appearance of withdrawing from the other figures.


Rodin Jean d’Aire 0785


Rodin Jean d’Aire 8116

Jean d'Aire, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1886, this cast 1972 (Musée Rodin 6/12)

The Grand Model for Jean d'Aire, the second of the Burghers to volunteer to present the keys to the City and Citadel of Calais to King Edward III after the 11 month siege in 1347 during the Hundred Years War. He is depicted holding the Key, with his head held high looking straight ahead with a defiant attitude. His hands, feet and the key are exaggerated and enlarged, and he is portrayed barefoot, dressed in sackcloth and wearing a noose around his neck. He is the most determined of the Burghers, with his feet planted firmly on the ground, his arms straight, and his torso rigid and motionless.


Rodin Burghers of Calais X2656

Burghers of Calais, Auguste Rodin, 1889 (cast 1968), French, bronze.

By law, no more than 12 casts can be made of work by Rodin.
This was the 10th cast (the first cast was made in 1895 for Calais).

The Burghers of Calais (Les Monument aux Bourgeois de Calais) is one of the most famous sculptures executed by Auguste Rodin. It was commissioned by the City of Calais in 1885 as a monument of an incident in 1347 during the Hundred Years War. The town council of the port city of Calais wanted to pay tribute to the six Burghers who had risked their lives to save the citizens of Calais after the 11 month siege of King Edward III of England, which had reduced the city to the brink of starvation and thirst.

Rodin’s sculpture consists of six figures standing on the same level in various positions and facing in different directions. They wear the same plain garments, and have similar physiques, however they exhibit different facial expressions: sorrow, despair, and determination. The figures in front are (left to right): Pierre de Wissant, Eustache Saint-Pierre, and Jean d’Aire. The figures in back are (left to right): Jeanne de Fiennes, Jacques de Wissant and Andrieu d’Andres (with his head buried in his hands).


Rodin Burghers of Calais X2657

The Burghers of Calais was Rodin's first completed major public monument. Rather than submitting a proposal for a solitary sculpture of Eustache Saint-Pierre as originally requested by the city council, Rodin read Froissart’s Chronicles describing the event, and saw the scene as described by Froissart. When the mayor of Calais visited Rodin’s studio, he was impressed, and recommended Rodin to the council. Rodin portrayed the six Burghers at a unique psychological moment, as they are about to leave the city to march to the camp of King Edward III to surrender the keys to the city, and probably their lives.

To save the population Edward required six of the leading citizens to present themselves as hostages in plain garments with nooses around their necks, bearing the keys to the city and citadel. Edward intended to kill the Burghers, but according to the medieval writer Jean Froissart, his pregnant wife Philippa of Hainault intervened, convincing Edward to spare them claiming that their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child. Rodin focused on all six Burghers rather than just the leading citizen, Eustache de Saint-Pierre, as had the previous artists and as the city council originally intended. Rodin accorded each of the six Burghers equal status by placing them all at the same height, and faced them in different directions to require the viewer to circumnavigate the sculpture to be able to appreciate his work in its entirety.


Rodin Jules Bastien-Lepage 4322


Rodin Jules Bastien-Lepage 0765

Jules Bastien-Lepage, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1887, this cast 1987 (Musée Rodin 2/8)

This sculpture of the naturalist painter Jules Bastien-Lepage was made for the monument commemorating the artist which stands in his native town of Damvillers, near Verdun in the Meuse. Jules Bastien-Lepage, who died of cancer at the age of 36, dedicated his art to the representation of peasant life and, even before the Impressionists, was an outspoken enthusiast of plein air painting. After his death, his family and friends wanted to celebrate his memory with a monument, and so his brother Emile Bastien-Lepage turned to Rodin, knowing that Jules and the sculptor had been good friends.


Rodin Jules Bastien-Lepage 8111


Rodin Jules Bastien-Lepage 3017

In July 1885, Rodin sent his first model to Emile Bastien-Lepage, who replied, “What you have sent me is superb, which doesn’t surprise me in the least when I see your signature on its base. Thank you for both of us.” However, in 1887, the committee that had commissioned the monument, taken aback by the model’s naturalistic mode, expressed serious reservations about it. But Rodin had supporters among members of the commissioning committee added at the last minute, and so was able to get their consent for a second more sober model in 1887, showing the subject with his right arm hanging loose at his side.


Rodin Jules Bastien-Lepage 3040


Rodin Jules Bastien-Lepage 4326

Closeups of the upper body of Rodin’s Monument to the naturalist painter Jules Bastien-Lepage.

The life-sized version of the final monument was dedicated in 1889, five years after the artist's premature death. It was the first time he’d been commissioned to create a monument for a public space, and the first time he’d done a work that constituted a posthumous homage for someone that he had known personally. In his image of Bastien-Lepage, Rodin placed the figure standing on uneven ground, leaning forward with a short cape covering his shoulders, bracing himself as if against a wind.


Rodin The Shade 4467


Rodin The Shade 4468

The Shade, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1880, enlarged 1901, this cast 1969 (Musée Rodin 6/12)

Rodin's The Shade is a singular sculpture which was created as a trio of identical figures for the pinnacle of the Gates of Hell. Dante, in the Inferno, describes three shades who danced in a circle as they told of their woe in Hades. Rodin's Three Shades stand at the center of the top lintel of the Gates of Hell, crowning the tympanum just above The Thinker. The downward gesture of their left arms and their heads conveys despair as it summons the viewer to gaze upon the Gates. Each shade in The Three Shades is the same figure, not a different sculpture; each is repeated and juxtaposed to form a new composition. Their formal history derives from Rodin's Adam, but the Shades show less tension and greater coordination of movement. The sculpture of the Three Shades at the original size intended for the Gates did not have hands. The enlarged version added the hands and reveals the Michelangelesque muscularity Rodin so admired in Italian Renaissance sculpture.


Rodin The Shade 3985


Rodin The Shade 8114

The Shade (a ghost or phantom) stands with his head radically twisted to the side, gesturing downward, appearing weary and despondent. After an 1875 visit to Michelangelo’s work in Italy, Rodin began a piece of sculpture that was greatly influenced by Michelangelo’s painting of the Creation of Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Rodin altered the pose of Michelangelo’s reclining figure, making his Adam upright with his hand gesturing downward instead of outward. Eventually Rodin’s Shade originated as a variation of his Adam. For the Three Shades atop the Gates of Hell, Rodin deprived the Shade of his right hand (the creative hand) to symbolize their powerlessness, and represented the left hand as a modeled fist. He made three identical casts of the same figure, each positioned at a different angle, knowing they would lose their identity as Adam.


Rodin Gates of Hell Stanford


Rodin Gates of Hell Zurich

At left, the lost-wax casting of the Gates of Hell commissioned by B. Gerald Cantor, now at Stanford University.
At right is the casting located in the Kuntsthaus Zurich Gallery of the Kunstlergesellschaft in Zurich, Switzerland.

Rodin was inspired by Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise at the Baptistry of San Giovanni in Florence, Italy.


Rodin Gates of Hell detail

Detail of The Thinker overlooking the Gates of Hell at Stanford University.

Public criticism, which was derived from the perception that Rodin had not completed the Gates and that they were not ready for delivery, drew strong defenses from Rodin and others. At the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900, Rodin held his first major retrospective called Exposition Rodin, where he exhibited the plaster model of the Gates, along with 170 of his works including many sculptures from the Gates of Hell. Rodin was hailed as the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo and Donatello and he sold over 200,000 francs worth of sculptures, taking orders from museums and collectors from around the world. The Gates were not cast until after Rodin's death in 1917, and contain a number of reliefs and sculptures such as the Thinker and the other protruding sculptural elements which were not part of the 1900 Gates, but which were in his studio since at least 1900. These were all assembled just before the death of Rodin by M. Bénédite, who would become the first director of the Rodin Museum.


Rodin The Thinker 3840

The Thinker, Auguste Rodin, 1880 and 1902, French, bronze, Edition of 12, Cast No. 11

When conceived in 1880 in its original size (approximately 28 inches) as the crowning element of The Gates of Hell , seated on the tympanum, The Thinker was entitled The Poet. He represented Dante, the author of the Divine Comedy which had inspired The Gates of Hell, leaning forward to observe the circles of Hell while meditating on his work. The pose of this figure is based on Carpeaux’s Ugolino and the seated portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici carved by Michelangelo.

While remaining in place on the monumental Gates of Hell, The Thinker was exhibited individually in 1888 and thus became an independent work. Enlarged in 1902, its monumental version proved even more popular and has become one of the most celebrated sculptures ever known. Numerous casts exist worldwide, cast in multiple versions at different sizes.

More images of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin are in the Norton Simon Museum and Rodin Compilation sections.


Rodin Monument to Balzac 4455

Monument to Honore de Balzac, Auguste Rodin, France, bronze
modelled 1897, this cast 1967 (Musée Rodin 9/12)

The most controversial of Rodin’s sculptures, which caused a public scandal that literally divided France.

Honoré de Balzac, the vastly influential French author of the series of 91 stories and novels entitled The Human Comedy, died in 1850, but it was not until 1891 that Rodin was commissioned by the Société des Gens de Lettres de France to sculpt the monument, on the recommendation of the new president Émile Zola. Rodin immersed himself in the study of Balzac, reading his works, studying photographs and lithographs, sculptures, paintings and drawings of the author, and even tracked down his tailor and had a pair of pants and a waistcoat made to Balzac's measurements. Rodin created over 50 studies simultaneously, most of them being heads, with some headless bodies, and a number of complete figures in various dressed and undressed states. His Balzac in Dominican Robe created the fundamental version of the clothing Rodin would use for the final figure. The Final Study joined the Naked Balzac (with altered arm positions) with the Monumental Head and a drastic reworking of the monk's garb of Balzac in Dominican Robe, with smoother drapery and hanging sleeves leading up to the massive head.


Rodin Monument to Balzac 3828


Rodin Monument to Balzac 7738

Monument to Balzac, Auguste Rodin, 1897, French, bronze, Edition of 12, Cast No. 8

Rodin's vision was to "represent Balzac in his study, breathless, hair in disorder, eyes lost in a dream...", and he worked constantly to render the drapery. Balzac always wore an ample robe of white cashmere lined with white silk at home, cut like a monk's habit and tied with a belt of knotted silk. When the final sculpture was unveiled, many of Rodin's detractors from the lengthy public scandal surrounding the sculpture (Rodin Compilation 2) labeled the statue a seal, a sack of potatoes, or a pig. The Monument to Balzac was rejected by the Société des Gens de Lettres de France, and Rodin withdrew from the controversy with dignity, refusing to sell the statue and returning his commission. After this experience, Rodin never again completed a public commission. The first bronze cast was erected in Paris in 1939, 22 years after Rodin's death.


Bourdelle Bust of Rodin 0829


Bourdelle Bust of Rodin 0832

Bust of Rodin, Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, France, 1909-1910, bronze

Considered to be the most prominent of Rodin's pupils, Émile-Antoine Bourdelle first studied under the sculptor Maurette in Toulouse before going to Paris in 1884 after winning a scholarship to the École des Beaux-Arts. There, he frequently visited and worked in the studio of his neighbor Jules Dalou, briefly studied under Alexandre Falguière, and in 1893 began his 15 year period as a pupil and assistant in the studio of Auguste Rodin, who had become a great admirer of Bourdelle's work.

Rodin was a great influence on Bourdelle's early work, and after leaving Rodin's studio in 1908, Bourdelle created this bust of Rodin, based upon his sculpture Rodin at Work on the Gates of Hell (1910). This was one of two busts he made of Rodin (the other, made just before this, was basically his head supported by his monumental beard, with two faun-like horns projecting from his hair). He also made a half-body bust, Portrait Bust of Rodin, with both arms in front of the half body, cut off at the waist.


Bourdelle Bust of Rodin 0837


Bourdelle Bust of Rodin 0841

Detail of Bourdelle’s Bust of Rodin. These first four images were taken at mid-day in December with an 85mm telephoto.

After the death of Rodin in 1917, Bourdelle was considered to be the premiere French sculptor, and by then he had completed his transition from creating works which emulated the rugged realism of Rodin's sculpture to a more refined, Classical form, which began with his Head of Apollo in 1900. Never totally able to escape from the shadow of Rodin, he became a teacher, turning his studio into the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, and became known for his majestic public monuments.


Bourdelle Bust of Rodin 3026


Bourdelle Bust of Rodin 4456

At left, a low-contrast 28mm wide-angle shot taken at mid-day on an overcast November day.
At right, a 95mm image taken in the early afternoon on a sunny day with thin overcast in April.


Bourdelle Bust of Rodin 4318

A detail shot taken in the early afternoon on a sunny November day with a 200mm Micro lens.

This totemic bust is also known as Portrait of Rodin (Au Maître Rodin, ces Profils Rassemblés). The alternate title refers to the Theory of Profiles, one of Rodin’s great contributions to sculpture, according to which each sculpture is formed from a collection of profile studies taken from various viewpoints. “Truth is attained through the dense execution of profiles...”.

The bust was treated as a stele, and along with his full-length sculpture Rodin at Work on the Gates of Hell (1910) was a  pastiche based on Michelangelo’s Moses at San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome, although he did not use the horns on these works.


Bourdelle Head of the Figure of Eloquence 0809


Bourdelle Head of the Figure of Eloquence 0815

Head of the Figure of Eloquence, Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, France, 1916-1918, bronze

In 1913, Antoine Bourdelle received his most important commission, the Monument to General Carlos María de Alvear for the public square in the Recoleta, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina. This sculpture was intended to be completed in 1915 for the centennial celebration of Argentina's Declaration of Independence in 1916, but World War I caused work to stop due to Bourdelle's assistants being called up and the lack of materials due to the conflict. It was completed in 1923 and exhibited in the living room at the Palais de Tuileries, and finally shipped to Argentina in 1925.

The Monument to General Alvear is an 5 meter equestrian statue atop a 14 m. pink granite pedestal flanked by four allegorical figures: Strength; Victory; Freedom and Eloquence, each 3.72 meters tall. The Head of the Figure of Eloquence is rendered as if gazing into a crowd, with its lips opened to create the impression of passionate speech.


Bourdelle Head of the Figure of Eloquence 0819


Bourdelle Head of the Figure of Eloquence 3028

The first three images were taken at 85mm, shaded at noon on a sunny day in December.
The low contrast 28mm image above right was taken on an overcast November day at noon.
The image below was taken with a 200mm Micro at mid-afternoon on a sunny November day.


Bourdelle Head of the Figure of Eloquence 4332

Close detail of the Head of the Figure of Eloquence, the final study for one of the allegorical figures flanking the
equestrian statue on the Monument to General Carlos María de Alvear, a hero of Argentina's War of Independence.


Bourdelle Herakles the Archer 3030

Herakles — The Archer, Émile-Antoine Bourdelle, France, 1909, bronze

Herakles the Archer (Hercules Killing the Stymphalian Birds) was inspired by the story in Greek mythology of Herakles’ sixth labor for King Eurystheus (one of the Twelve Labors of Herakles, performed as an oracular penance to atone for the killing of his wife and six sons after he was driven mad by Hera). The Stymphalian Birds (Stymphalides) were man-eating birds with beaks of bronze and sharp metallic feathers which they could launch to pierce their victims. Sacred to Ares (god of war), to escape a pack of wolves they had migrated to the Arcadian woods around Lake Stymphalia (a marshy wetlands lake in Corinthia on the Peloponnese peninsula of southern Greece) where they bred quickly and terrorized the countryside, destroying crops and fruit trees and killing residents and animals. Hercules' labor was to kill them or drive them away. He was unable to enter the marsh because the ground could not support his weight, so Athena gave him a bronze krotala (a clapper similar to castanets) to scare the birds out of the trees, and Herakles shot many with arrows as they took flight, scaring the others away (a 6th century BC black-figure amphora shows the scene with Herakles using a slingshot instead of a bow).


Bourdelle Herakles the Archer 4585

Émile-Antoine Bourdelle’s Herakles the Archer, shaded in the golden light before sunset in early spring.

Bourdelle had his friend Commander André Doyen-Parigot (a military man and accomplished sportsman who was killed at Verdun in 1916) model for the sculpture in a pose which highlighted the muscles of the body, modifying the head at the request of his friend to provide anonymity. He created six studies for a small sculpture which he considered completed in 1909. During a visit to his workshop, Gabriel Thomas (one of his patrons) was entranced by the sculpture and commissioned an exclusive monumental enlargement for the garden of his home, which he had cast in gilt-bronze in April 1909. The sculpture was shown at the 1910 Paris Salon along with the Bust of Rodin, where both were extremely well-received. The 1910 Salon triumph marked his emergence from the shadow of Rodin's influence (he had been Rodin's pupil and assistant for 15 years, between 1893 and 1908). After the 1914 Venice Biennale, where Bourdelle had exhibited a cast of the sculpture and had to refuse to sell a copy, Thomas agreed to end the exclusivity and allow Bourdelle to make copies. The sculpture is considered to be one of Bourdelle's masterpieces. In 1923, a second version was created with reliefs on the right and front faces of the large rock representing the Lernaean Hydra and the Nemean Lion, along with a signature relief and monogram. This is a cast of the first (1909) version.


Bourdelle Herakles the Archer detail 4330

The Archaic head of Herakles the Archer, inspired by the Greek kouros with high cheekbones
and matted hair, is a masterpiece of Émile-Antoine Bourdelle and is his most famous sculpture.


Kolbe Large Seated Woman 0844


Kolbe Large Seated Woman 0858

Grosse Sitzende (Large Seated Woman), Georg Kolbe, Germany, 1929, bronze

Georg Kolbe was the leading German figure sculptor and one of the most successful sculptors of his time. He was the chief advocate of the idealistic nude, and had a great impact on his generation. The son of a master painter, he first wanted to be a painter, and studied painting and drawing in Dresden, Munich and Paris from 1891-98. While in Paris in 1897, he studied the sculpture of Rodin closely, and after meeting Rodin in Rome in 1898, he decided to try his hand at sculpture, learning modeling and moulding from the Prussian Neo-Classicist sculptor Louis Tuaillon in Rome. After returning to Germany in 1902, he soon abandoned painting altogether. He achieved his artistic breakthrough after his first masterpiece Die Tänzerin (the Dancer) of 1912, which was the first of several compositions of dancers Kolbe created, and which became one of the best-known German works of art of the 20th century. His early figures were stylized, harmonious nudes influenced by Rodin and Maillol (image from the Getty Museum section). By the 1920s, he changed from stylized figures, transitioning to athletic female figures.


Kolbe Large Seated Woman 3024


Kolbe Large Seated Woman 4469

After the death of his wife in 1927, his portrayal of cheerful female figures was
replaced with sad. lonely or introspective works such as Large Seated Woman.
He also worked intensely on monuments dedicated to Beethoven and Nietsche.


Kolbe Large Seated Woman 3999

Grosse Sitzende (Large Seated Woman) was modeled in 1929 and cast
in an edition of eight or nine. This sculpture was part of Kolbe’s transition to
figures as role models based on Nietschean philosophy. His previous figures
were often in motion, but during this period he preferred to create static figures.

His male nudes of the 1930s were appropriated for propaganda purposes by
the Nazi regime, but Kolbe did not want his work to be used in this way and
refused a commission for a portrait of Hitler. A long-time supporter of the
Expressionist movement (and president of their artist’s confederation,
banned in 1936 during the Nazi’s suppression of Degenerate Art), it
was still important show his work in exhibitions, even though doing
this directly supported the politics and propaganda of the Nazis.

From 1939 his eyesight began to fail, and during the war, over 1000 of
his sculptures were bombed or confiscated and melted for war purposes.
Near the end of the war, Hitler and Goebbels listed Kolbe as one of the 12
artists crucial to Nazi culture. In 1947 Georg Kolbe died of bladder cancer.
Only after his death were his Beethoven monument and his Ring of Statues
representing the very best of his later work erected in Frankfurt am Main.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the LACMA Assorted Art page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the LACMA Asian and Middle Eastern Art page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the LACMA Exteriors page.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Rodin compilation (LACMA and Norton Simon Museum).

The Rodin Compilation Portfolio contains two pages with 88 images compiled from the
LA County Museum of Art and Norton Simon Museum sections plus an Overview Index.
The pages display the Burghers of Calais & Studies; and the Thinker and other Figures.