Artist Stories

5 Sculptures by Auguste Rodin You Should Know

Pola Otterstein, Nicole Ganbold 12 November 2022 min Read

Francois Auguste Rene Rodin was born in Paris on November 12th, 1840. The French sculptor is known as the progenitor of modern sculpture. Even though much of his work was criticized during his lifetime, today he is considered one of the greatest artists in Western art history. Here are five groundbreaking works by him that you need to know!

While Rodin was tremendously talented, he did not enjoy much luck in love. He married his long-time partner, Rose Beuret, in January 1917 but she died only three weeks after their wedding. He was also involved in a passionate affair with Camille Claudel, who was a talented sculptress herself and was a great inspiration on the artist. In the course of their tumultuous relationship, Claudel was diagnosed with a mental illness and spent several years in an asylum.

1. The Kiss

The Kiss, Auguste Rodin, 1882, Musée Rodin, Paris, Happy 177th Birthday Rodin
Auguste Rodin, The Kiss, 1882, Musée Rodin, Paris, France.

This sensual sculpture is one of the most famous depictions of this expression of love. See here DailyArt Magazine‘s ode to kissing in art history.

2. The Thinker

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker (Le Penseur), 1904, Musée Rodin, Paris, France
Auguste Rodin, The Thinker (Le Penseur), 1904, Musée Rodin, Paris, France. Photo by CrisNYCa via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

What is he thinking about? The bronze statue is often interpreted as an image of philosophy. This sculpture was originally made to be a part of the monumental Gates of Hell (shown below).

3. The Gates of Hell

Auguste Rodin, The Gates of Hell, plaster cast, 1880-1917, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France
Auguste Rodin, The Gates of Hell, plaster cast, 1917, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France. Google Arts & Culture.

Rodin created this model for a monumental entrance to a museum of the decorative arts in Paris but the plans for it were eventually abandoned. Today the plaster cast stands in the original location where it was commissioned (the Musée d’Orsay).

4. The Age of Bronze

Auguste Rodin, The Age of Bronze, 1875/76, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany.
Auguste Rodin, The Age of Bronze, 1875-1876, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany. Photo by Daniel Ullrich via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

This bronze statue depicts a life-size male nude and was first exhibited in the 1877 Salon. It caused lots of controversy as Rodin was accused of casting a living model instead of sculpting it himself.

5. The Burghers of Calais

Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, 1884-1895, in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Calais, France.
Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, 1884-1895, in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Calais, France. Photo by Romainberth via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

This group of bronze sculptures commemorates the surrender of burghers of Calais, a French port city, during the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453). This work caused even more controversy than The Age of Bronze, as Rodin chose to depict a historical scene at ground level, without allegorical figures. Furthermore, it has a naturalistic quality to convey the anguish of the starved people of Calais.

Did you enjoy our selection of Rodin masterpieces? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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