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Jules Dalou and Auguste Rodin were good friends for a number of years before falling out over the commissioning of a monument project to Victor Hugo, on which they held strong opposing views.
This sculpture in front of us here was completed in 1883 out of bronze. The item was created in order to mark the subject's award of a medal of honour a year previous. The two had been students in Paris and formed a close bond but they would not agree over elements of this particular sculpture either, which added to the issues that they faced in the 1880s. It is certainly not unusual for artists to fall out from time to time, with them often holding particularly strong views around all manner of things. If Dalou had given any criticism over this sculpture to Rodin, that would also not have gone down well at all, with the latter being known as a sensitive individual when it came to how others perceived his work. Jules Dalou himself was also a highly successful French sculptor who occasionally lived abroad. He generally concentrated on creating public monuments, in contrast to Rodin's career, and so they were not in direct competition too often.
Despite Dalou's criticism of this piece, he is actually placed in a good light within the creation. His expression is of strength and confidence, and his pose says much the same. It could almost be of a famous general from previous centuries, where they types of personality characteristics would be added as a necessity. The bust is cut off from just below the chest area and the whole bronze piece is placed directly onto a wooden stand. The bronze itself has a smooth surface that helps to direct light around the room as well as bring out different features of the design. Dalou's beard is carefully crafted, with his hair flicking out from the side and a strong gaze looking out into the distance. His cheek bones are prominent too, whilst barely an ounce of fat can be seen on this lean physique. Despite model and artist falling out, some consider this to be amongst Rodin's finest portrait sculptures.
This sculpture is believed to be in the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the USA, but many of Rodin's creations have multiple versions and so it can be hard to track down a specific piece from time to time. The venue itself also hold a number of other items from Rodin within their collection, including a version of The Burghers of Calais, several hand studies and also the Head of Mrs Russell. It is perhaps the best offering for this artist outside of France, though the Musee Rodin in Paris will always remain the best venue for those looking to understand more about his life and career. The Met itself also offer other styles of sculpture as well, taking in some of the more classical periods from which everything that followed took great inspiration. Rodin himself used Michelangelo as a key influence.