Bourdelle entered the _cole des Beaux-Arts in 1884 and studied under Alexandre Falgui_re. After working at Jules Dalou’s studio, he became an assistant to Rodin. The Head of Apollo (1900) marked his move away from Rodin’s influence towards a constructive expression overflowing with forceful vitality. He also produced many sculptures intended as monuments.
This is a portrait of Mrs. Valgas, who lived in Santiago, Chile. Bourdelle made four types of works ranging from small to medium scale with this woman, who was his apprentice, as the model. This woman, whose plentiful hair is kept back with a band and bears sorrow on her face, is not a smooth elegant form but treated with rough-cut modeling, which suggests an architectural constructiveness. Here, we can identify a new expression free from the traditional French sculpture until then. Whereas Bourdelle’s master Rodin gave external form to inner emotional expressions, Bourdelle tried to represent the spiritual depth of the inside through the external form of his sculptures. According to Bourdelle, what is important in sculpture is not the surface but the profound compositional force the form possesses.