MADISON, NJ – The Borough of Madison invites area residents to view the now-famous Auguste Rodin sculpture this weekend at the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building.
A 700-pound marble bust of Napoleon, the sculpture was donated to the borough—along with many other works of art—by Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, a wealthy philanthropist and art aficionado who resided in Madison during the early 20th century.
The origin of this multi-million dollar work of art was discovered in 2015, but officials waited to divulge that the piece was a long-lost Rodin.
“Until it was verified two years ago, we didn’t truly appreciate what it meant to have a Rodin sculpture in the corner of the council chambers,” said Madison Mayor Bob Conley.
Mallory Mortillaro said she was hired by the borough to catalogue artwork inside the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building following a renovation. As she examined the Rodin, she said a signature at the sculpture's base caught her eye.
“I was thinking ‘This is weird, why does it say Rodin? Surely if it was Rodin they would know,’” she said. “I wasn’t really in the mindset that anything in here was going to be a multi-million dollar piece.
“I think the room is so beautiful itself...that you don’t necessarily zero in on what’s in the corner so it had managed to go unnoticed.”
Madison has agreed to loan the sculpture, now under strict security protection, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the end of October, and Conley said he is excited to share Madison’s newfound treasure with the world.
Art enthusiasts can visit the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building on Sunday Oct. 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to check out the piece “before Napoleon goes on the road,” Conley said.