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Rodin Rene François Auguste
(1840—1917)

Rodin Rene François Auguste (1840—1917)

French sculptor, who imbued his work with great psychological force, which was expressed largely through texture and modeling. He is regarded as the foremost sculptor of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Rodin was born in Paris on November 12, 1840, the son of a police official. He studied art in a free school for artisans and on his own at the Louvre, because he was refused admittance to the École des Beaux-Arts. For many years he worked for other sculptors, including Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. Rodin collaborated in the early 1870s with a Belgian artist on architectural sculpture for the Bourse in Brussels. In 1875 he traveled to Italy, where he was profoundly influenced by the treatment of movement and muscular action in the works of the Renaissance sculptors Donatello and Michelangelo.

For Rodin, beauty in art consisted in the truthful representation of inner states, and to this end he often subtly distorted anatomy. His sculpture, in bronze and marble, falls generally into two styles. The more characteristic style reveals a deliberate roughness of form and a painstaking surface modeling; the other is marked by a polished surface and delicacy of form. Rodin produced several important sculptures between about 1858 and 1875, including notably the Man with the Broken Nose. He initially gained recognition in 1877, however, when his male nude figure The Age of Bronze was exhibited at the Salon. This work aroused controversy because of its extreme realism and provoked accusations that Rodin had made plaster casts from living models. The exhibition in 1880 of his nude statue, St. John the Baptist, which stressed the human qualities of his subject, increased Rodin’s reputation. In the same year he began work on the Gates of Hell, a sculptured bronze door for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The door represented chiefly scenes from The Inferno, the first section of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Although Rodin did not complete the Gates of Hell, he created models, or studies, of many of its component sculptures, all of which were acclaimed as independent achievements. Among these works are The Kiss, Ugolino, The Thinker, Adam, and Eve. In 1886 he completed The Burghers of Calais; this sculpture is a monumental bronze group in which the historical figures are represented with great psychological differentiation.

Rodin also produced numerous portraits, which reveal the emotional states of their subjects. They include numerous portraits, full figures of the French writers Honoré de Balzac and Victor Hugo and of the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage; and busts of the French artists Jules Dalou, Carrier-Belleuse, and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Rodin died at Meudon, near Paris, on November 17, 1917. A number of his works can be found in the Musée Rodin, Paris, and a Rodin museum is located in Philadelphia.


Czech Republic, 2002, Rodin and Mucha in Prague

Czech Republic, 2004, Rodin and Mucha in Prague

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