Maurice Haquette was good friends with the artist and was himself an art teacher specialising in oil painting and watercolour. They would become close after Haquette defended some of Rodin's early work after others had questioned his production methods. The precision that he delivered within his sculptures was so impressive that some became suspicious about Rodin until they eventually realised that he was just working at a higher level than they had been accustomed to. This was particularly the case in 1877 whilst Rodin was showing work in both France and Belgium The overall piece measures 53.5 by 26.7 by 41.1 cm and is one of the more memorable items within this gallery's collection. Rodin was famously senstitive, even more than most artists normally are, and so to see someone defending him would have been much appreciated and given him a great boost.
This friendship was later to prove particularly fruitful to Rodin as Haquette's brother, Georges, would ultimately recommend the sculptor for the major upcoming project that was to become known as The Gates of Hell. This would be Rodin's most complex and ambitious undertaking, with whole groups of study drawings and moulds being produced for the different element of this design. It is likely that this portrait sculpture was a means to saying thank you for the help provided to the artist by this family who sought nothing in return. Rodin left a small note on the back of the piece to underline this immense gratitude.
This delightful portrait sculpture can be found at the Museo Soumaya, Mexico City which today offers the finest private collection of Rodin, anywhere in the world. Clearly the Musee Rodin in Paris is the most impressive of all, but for followers of European art within Mexico, this venue is an extraordinary opportunity. Besides their impressive selection of Rodin moulds and sculptures, there are also Mexican artists featured here, such as the muralist Diego Rivera, as well as 19th century European painters such as Pissarro, Degas and Renoir, and continue to expand their collection annually. There is also a stunning venue in which these items are displayed, with a futuristic design that is just as impressive as the catalogue of works found inside.