Rodin pays homage to the ancient Greek world by portraying Minerva, the patron of the arts and of Athens. In the mid-1890s Rodin produced a series of busts of classical goddesses inspired by the features of Mrs Russell, the Italian wife of an Australian Impressionist painter. Rodin considered her to be the most beautiful woman in France. Most of the busts were carved in marble alone. For this bust, made for the collector James Smith, he used two materials, marble and bronze, to play with the differing fall of light on them. Lively highlights reflect off the grimacing heads on the bronze helmet. In contrast, the light is evenly absorbed on the marble face.