Friday, 1 January 2016

A New Year procurement lesson from Rodin and the Honore of Balzac

Some time ago I discussed the story behind one of Rodin's sculptures, the Burghers of Calais, and its relevance to procurement; this time I want to discuss the actual procurement of a different one, namely, the sculpture of Balzac, the novelist who lived from 1799 until 1850.  

Rodin was commissioned by Societe des Gens de Lettres in 1891. Rodin spent seven years on the work, seeking to understand the author's life, arranging for models to pose and actually ordering clothes to Balzac's measurements. He eventually clothed the sculpture in a dressing gown depicting Balzac's dress sense when writing. Worse, Rodin chose to present the sculpture as a persona as opposed to a true likeness. The client was unaware of this intention and when a plaster model was presented to them in 1898 they were furious and refused to pay.

Rodin kept the sculpture but it was not cast in Bronze until 22 years after his death.  (You can now see the finished work and the Burghers of Calais in the Rodin Museum in Paris.)

Few would doubt Rodin's capability and capacity to satisfy the client, that's not where the commission went wrong. So, as we approach the procurements of 2016, the lesson is clear: make sure you specify clearly what you want and any constraints you place on the provider. If your commission can be managed in stages with sign-offs, make sure you set out what those stages are and also how you have the right of exit.

Rodin's sculpture of Balzac was not to everyones taste and indeed neither the buyer nor the seller ended up happy; pity they hadn't given more thought to the procurement process.

No comments:

Post a Comment