A long-lost marble bust by Auguste Rodin depicting Napoleon Bonaparte, has turned up in a municipal building in Madison, New Jersey. The major work by the French sculptor was last seen in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York in the 1920s.
The masterpiece dating from 1908 had been sitting on a plinth in a committee room gathering dust for the past 85 years. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, The daughter of William D. Rockefeller, donated the work along with the building erected in 1935. It was named after her son, who had died in a car accident.
Recent research done by the foundation uncovered that Mrs Rockefeller Dodge a serious art collector had acquired Rodin’s bust at auction from the family of Thomas Fortune Ryan, a tobacco magnate, who had loaned it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from 1915 to 1929.
The 700 pound work of art has been authenticated by a Rodin expert, the work will now go on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art later this month in time for the centenary of the artist’s death.
The work came to light by an inquisitive 22-year-old graduate student. Mallory Mortillaro, said “She was running her finger along the base and felt a chiseled mark, got a flashlight, got on a chair and peered over, and there was the signature of A. Rodin.”