Balzac and Rodin: Naturalism

Rodin was an appropriate choice to depict Balzac, as their styles of expression were similar.  Balzac wrote stories packed with the details of daily life; his sympathetic portrayals provided insight into the lives of citizens of all levels of society.  At a time when academic art with its idealized allegorical compositions still held sway in the art world, Rodin’s monumental figures were often realistic and full of individual character, often depicted with an agitation indicating an inner life.  The author Émile Zola was the head of the Société des Gens de Lettres, which commissioned the monument to Balzac; he may have felt sympathy and affection not only for Balzac’s style of naturalism, which inspired his own, but also for Rodin’s.