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Gallery Text

This bronze is derived from Rodin’s unrealized second project for a monument to the writer Victor Hugo. Rodin originally conceived the figure as a winged personification of glory that would float above the author’s head. In his earliest study for it, the artist retained the head and left arm, though he eliminated them after an initial exhibition. By removing them and repositioning the legs into their current confrontational pose, he erases any sense of individualism in favor of anonymous carnality. The metaphoric title adds another layer of provocation to the composition, suggesting that the figure’s sexual organ is now her means of verbal communication. A cast of this work once owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was considered too bold for exhibition during the early twentieth century.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Auguste Rodin, French (Paris, France 1840 - 1917 Meudon, France)
Iris, Messenger of the Gods (Another Voice, Called Iris)
Work Type
c. 1890-1891
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2700, European and American Art, 19th century, Impressionism and the Late Nineteenth Century
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Physical Descriptions
Bronze, with black patina
83 x 85 x 39.8 cm (32 11/16 x 33 7/16 x 15 11/16 in.)
with base: 105.4 x 85 x 39.8 cm (41 1/2 x 33 7/16 x 15 11/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: stamped in relief under left foot: A. Rodin
Fine Arts Associates, New York NY, sold; to Lois Orswell, Pomfret Center, CT, 1956, bequest; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1998.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, The Lois Orswell Collection
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Rodin to Lipchitz, part 2, exh. cat., Fine Arts Associates (New York, NY, 1956), no. 50, repr.

Marjorie B. Cohn and Sarah Kianovsky, Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), pp. 97-100, 103-105, 107, 128, 175, 340; figs. 45, 46,

Anna Tahinci, "Private Patronage: Rodin and his Early British Collectors", Rodin, the Zola of Sculpture, ed. Claudine Mitchell, Ashgate Publishing (Burlington, VT, 2004), pp. 95-117, p. 113, repr. as fig. 5.4

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 177, ill.

Exhibition History

Rodin to Lipchitz, part 2, Fine Arts Associates, 10/09/1956 - 11/03/1956

Lois Orswell, David Smith, and Modern Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/21/2002 - 02/16/2003

32Q: 2700 Impressionism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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