About this artwork

Rodin designed this moving sculpture as his entry for a competition commemorating the siege of Paris in 1870. He drew inspiration for the wounded soldier from Michelangelo’s Pietà in Florence, while the winged genius was modelled on François Rude’s La Marseillaise on the Arc de Triomphe. By 1912 this version of the Rodin bronze was in the collection of John James Cowan (1846 – 1936), an Edinburgh accountant whose family ran the Valleyfield papermills at Penicuik, near Edinburgh. Cowan owned works by Rodin and Manet and several by James McNeill Whistler. After the General Strike of 1926 he was forced to sell most of his collection.

Published July 2022

  • artist:
    Auguste RodinFrench (1840 - 1917)
  • title:
    La Defense
  • date created:
    Probably 1879
  • materials:
    Bronze
  • measurements:
    119.38 x 60.96 x 45.72 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    J.J. Cowan Gift 1930
  • accession number:
    NG 1747
  • gallery:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin