Auguste Rodin

Auguste Rodin

Overview
François-Auguste-René Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917), known as Auguste Rodin (oʊˈɡuːst roʊˈdæn , ogyst ʁɔdɛ̃), was a French sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past. He was schooled traditionally, took a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired academic recognition, although he was never accepted into Paris's foremost school of art.

Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface in clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

.
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Quotations

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.

As quoted in Heads and Tales (1936) by Malvina Hoffman|Malvina Hoffman, p. 47

The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.

As quoted in A Toolbox for Humanity: More Than 9000 Years of Thought (2004) by Lloyd Albert Johnson, p. 7
Encyclopedia
François-Auguste-René Rodin (12 November 1840 – 17 November 1917), known as Auguste Rodin (oʊˈɡuːst roʊˈdæn , ogyst ʁɔdɛ̃), was a French sculptor
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past. He was schooled traditionally, took a craftsman-like approach to his work, and desired academic recognition, although he was never accepted into Paris's foremost school of art.

Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, deeply pocketed surface in clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

. Many of his most notable sculptures were roundly criticized during his lifetime. They clashed with the predominant figure sculpture tradition, in which works were decorative, formulaic, or highly thematic. Rodin's most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 and allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

, modeled the human body with realism, and celebrated individual character and physicality. Rodin was sensitive to the controversy surrounding his work, but refused to change his style. Successive works brought increasing favor from the government and the artistic community.

From the unexpected realism of his first major figure — inspired by his 1875 trip to Italy — to the unconventional memorials whose commissions he later sought, Rodin's reputation grew, such that he became the preeminent French sculptor of his time. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist. Wealthy private clients sought Rodin's work after his World's Fair
Exposition Universelle (1900)
The Exposition Universelle of 1900 was a world's fair held in Paris, France, from April 15 to November 12, 1900, to celebrate the achievements of the past century and to accelerate development into the next...

 exhibit, and he kept company with a variety of high-profile intellectuals and artists. He married his life-long companion, Rose Beuret, in the last year of both their lives. His sculpture suffered a decline in popularity after his death in 1917, but within a few decades, his legacy solidified. Rodin remains one of the few sculptors widely known outside the visual arts community.

Formative years


Rodin was born in 1840 into a working-class family in Paris, the second child of Marie Cheffer and Jean-Baptiste Rodin, who was a police department clerk. He was largely self-educated, and began to draw at age ten. Between ages 14 and 17, Rodin attended the Petite École, a school specializing in art and mathematics, where he studied drawing and painting. His drawing teacher, Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran
Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran
Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran was a French artist and teacher.He was born in Paris. Boisbaudran was admitted in 1819 to the École des Beaux-Arts where he studied under Peyron and Guillon Lethière...

, believed in first developing the personality of his students so that they observed with their own eyes and drew from their recollections. Rodin still expressed appreciation for his teacher much later in life. It was at Petite École that he first met Jules Dalou
Jules Dalou
Aimé-Jules Dalou was a French sculptor, recognized as one of the most brilliant virtuosos of nineteenth-century France, admired for his perceptiveness, execution, and unpretentious realism.-Life:...

 and Alphonse Legros
Alphonse Legros
Alphonse Legros , painter, etcher and sculptor was born in Dijon. His father was an accountant, and came from the neighbouring village of Véronnes....

.

In 1857, Rodin submitted a clay model of a companion to the Grand École
École des Beaux-Arts
École des Beaux-Arts refers to a number of influential art schools in France. The most famous is the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, now located on the left bank in Paris, across the Seine from the Louvre, in the 6th arrondissement. The school has a history spanning more than 350 years,...

in an attempt to win entrance; he did not succeed, and two further applications were also denied. Given that entrance requirements at the Grand École were not particularly high, the rejections were considerable setbacks. Rodin's inability to gain entrance may have been due to the judges' Neoclassical
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 tastes, while Rodin had been schooled in light, 18th-century sculpture. Leaving the Petite École in 1857, Rodin would earn a living as a craftsman and ornamenter for most of the next two decades, producing decorative objects and architectural embellishments.

Rodin's sister Maria, two years his senior, died of peritonitis
Peritonitis
Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, the serous membrane that lines part of the abdominal cavity and viscera. Peritonitis may be localised or generalised, and may result from infection or from a non-infectious process.-Abdominal pain and tenderness:The main manifestations of...

 in a convent in 1862. Her brother was anguished, and felt guilty because he had introduced Maria to an unfaithful suitor. Turning away from art, Rodin briefly joined a Catholic order, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament
Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament
The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament is a Catholic religious congregation of priests, deacons, and Brothers whose ideal of life is to become living witnesses of the Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life. By their life and activities, they assist the Church in her efforts to form...

. Saint Peter Julian Eymard
Peter Julian Eymard
Saint Peter Julian Eymard was a French Catholic priest, founder of two religious orders, and a canonized saint....

, founder and head of the congregation, recognized Rodin's talent and, sensing his lack of suitability for the order, encouraged Rodin to continue with his sculpture. He returned to work as a decorator, while taking classes with animal sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye
Antoine-Louis Barye
Antoine-Louis Barye was a French sculptor most famous for his work as an animalier, a sculptor of animals.-Biography:Born in Paris, Barye began his career as a goldsmith, like many sculptors of the Romantic Period...

. The teacher's attention to detail — his finely rendered musculature of animals in motion — significantly influenced Rodin.

In 1864, Rodin began to live with a young seamstress named Rose Beuret, with whom he would stay — with ranging commitment — for the rest of his life. The couple had a son, Auguste-Eugène Beuret (1866–1934). That year, Rodin offered his first sculpture for exhibition, and entered the studio of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse
Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse
Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse was a French sculptor and painter.- Life :Carrier-Belleuse was a student of David d'Angers and briefly at the École des Beaux-Arts...

, a successful mass producer of objets d'art. Rodin worked as Carrier-Belleuse' chief assistant until 1870, designing roof decorations and staircase and doorway embellishments. With the arrival of the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, Rodin was called to serve in the National Guard
National Guard (France)
The National Guard was the name given at the time of the French Revolution to the militias formed in each city, in imitation of the National Guard created in Paris. It was a military force separate from the regular army...

, but his service was brief due to his near-sightedness. Decorators' work had dwindled because of the war, yet Rodin needed to support his family; poverty was a continual difficulty for Rodin until about the age of 30. Carrier-Belleuse soon asked Rodin to join him in Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, where they would work on ornamentation for Brussels' bourse
Brussels Stock Exchange
The Brussels Stock Exchange was founded in Brussels, Belgium, by Napoleonic decree in 1801. On September 22, 2000, the BSE merged with Paris Bourse, Lisbon Stock Exchange and the stock exchanges of Amsterdam, to form Euronext N.V., the first pan-European exchange for equities and derivatives,...

.

Rodin planned to stay in Belgium a few months, but he spent the next six years abroad. It was a pivotal time in his life. He had acquired skill and experience as a craftsman, but no one had yet seen his art, which sat in his workshop, since he could not afford castings. Though his relationship with Carrier-Belleuse deteriorated, Rodin found other employment in Brussels, displaying some works at salons, and his companion Rose soon joined him there. Having saved enough money to travel, Rodin visited Italy for two months in 1875, where he was drawn to the work of Donatello
Donatello
Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi , also known as Donatello, was an early Renaissance Italian artist and sculptor from Florence...

 and Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

. Their work had a profound effect on his artistic direction. Rodin said, "It is Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 who has freed me from academic sculpture." Returning to Belgium, he began work on The Age of Bronze
The Age of Bronze
The Age of Bronze is a bronze statue by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The figure is of a life-size nude male. When first exhibited at the 1877 Salon in Paris, Rodin was falsely accused of having made the statue by casting a living model, a charge that was vigorously denied. This charge...

, a life-size male figure whose realism brought Rodin attention but led to accusations of sculptural cheating.

Artistic independence


Rose Beuret and Rodin returned to Paris in 1877, moving into a small flat on the Left Bank
Rive Gauche
La Rive Gauche is the southern bank of the river Seine in Paris. Here the river flows roughly westward, cutting the city in two: looking downstream, the southern bank is to the left, and the northern bank is to the right....

. Misfortune surrounded Rodin: his mother, who had wanted to see her son marry, was dead, and his father was blind and senile, cared for by Rodin's sister-in-law, Aunt Thérèse. Rodin's eleven-year-old son Auguste, possibly developmentally delayed, was also in the ever-helpful Thérèse's care. Rodin had essentially abandoned his son for six years, and would have a very limited relationship with him throughout his life. Father and son now joined the couple in their flat, with Rose as caretaker. The charges of fakery surrounding The Age of Bronze continued. Rodin increasingly sought more soothing female companionship in Paris, and Rose stayed in the background.

Rodin earned his living collaborating with more established sculptors on public commissions, primarily memorials and neo-baroque
Neo-baroque
The Baroque Revival or Neo-baroque was an architectural style of the late 19th century. The term is used to describe architecture which displays important aspects of Baroque style, but is not of the Baroque period proper—i.e., the 17th and 18th centuries.Some examples of Neo-baroque architecture:*...

 architectural pieces in the style of Carpeaux. In competitions for commissions he submitted models of Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

, and Lazare Carnot
Lazare Carnot
Lazare Nicolas Marguerite, Comte Carnot , the Organizer of Victory in the French Revolutionary Wars, was a French politician, engineer, and mathematician.-Education and early life:...

, all to no avail. On his own time, he worked on studies leading to the creation of his next important work, St. John the Baptist Preaching.

In 1880, Carrier-Belleuse — now art director of the Sèvres
Sèvres
Sèvres is a commune in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris.The town is known for its porcelain manufacture, the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, making the famous Sèvres porcelain, as well as being the location of the International Bureau of Weights...

 national porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 factory — offered Rodin a part-time position as a designer. The offer was in part a gesture of reconciliation, and Rodin accepted. That part of Rodin which appreciated 18th-century tastes was aroused, and he immersed himself in designs for vases and table ornaments that brought the factory renown across Europe. The artistic community appreciated his work in this vein, and Rodin was invited to Paris Salon
Paris Salon
The Salon , or rarely Paris Salon , beginning in 1725 was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Between 1748–1890 it was the greatest annual or biannual art event in the Western world...

s by such friends as writer Léon Cladel
Leon Cladel
Léon Cladel , French novelist, was born at Montauban . The son of an artisan, he studied law at Toulouse and became a solicitor's clerk in Paris. Cladel made a reputation in a limited circle by his first book, Les Martyrs ridicules , a novel for which Charles Baudelaire, whose literary disciple...

. During his early appearances at these social events, Rodin seemed shy; in his later years, as his fame grew, he displayed the loquaciousness and temperament for which he is better known. French statesman Leon Gambetta
Léon Gambetta
Léon Gambetta was a French statesman prominent after the Franco-Prussian War.-Youth and education:He is said to have inherited his vigour and eloquence from his father, a Genovese grocer who had married a Frenchwoman named Massabie. At the age of fifteen, Gambetta lost the sight of his right eye...

 expressed a desire to meet Rodin, and the sculptor impressed him when they met at a salon. Gambetta spoke of Rodin in turn to several government ministers, likely including Edmund Turquet, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Fine Arts, whom Rodin eventually met.

Rodin's relationship with Turquet was rewarding: through him, he won the 1880 commission to create a portal
Portal (architecture)
Portal is a general term describing an opening in the walls of a building, gate or fortification, and especially a grand entrance to an important structure. Doors, metal gates or portcullis in the opening can be used to control entry or exit. The surface surrounding the opening may be made of...

 for a planned museum of decorative arts. Rodin dedicated much of the next four decades to his elaborate Gates of Hell
Gates of hell
The Gates of Hell are various locations on the surface of Earth that have acquired a legendary reputation for being entrances to the underworld...

, an unfinished portal for a museum that was never built. Many of the portal's figures became sculptures in themselves, including Rodin's most famous, The Thinker
The Thinker
The Thinker is a bronze and marble sculpture by Auguste Rodin, whose first cast, of 1902, is now in the Musée Rodin in Paris; there are some twenty other original castings as well as various other versions, studies, and posthumous castings. It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a...

and The Kiss
The Kiss (Rodin sculpture)
The Kiss is an 1889 marble sculpture by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Like many of Rodin's best-known individual sculptures, including The Thinker, the embracing couple depicted in the sculpture appeared originally as part of a group of reliefs decorating Rodin's monumental bronze portal The...

. With the museum commission came a free studio, granting Rodin a new level of artistic freedom. Soon, he stopped working at the porcelain factory; his income came from private commissions.

In 1883, Rodin agreed to supervise a course for sculptor Alfred Boucher
Alfred Boucher
A French sculptor, Alfred Boucher , mentor to Camille Claudel and friend of Auguste Rodin.Born in Bouy-sur-Ovin , he was the son of a farmhand who became the gardener of the sculptor Chantalle van Zanten, who, after recognizing Boucher's talent, opened his studio to him.He won the Grand Prix du...

 in his absence, where he met the 18-year-old Camille Claudel
Camille Claudel
Camille Claudel was a French sculptor and graphic artist. She was the elder sister of the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel.- Early years :...

. The two formed a passionate but stormy relationship and influenced each other artistically. Claudel inspired Rodin as a model for many of his figures, and she was a talented sculptor, assisting him on commissions.

Although busy with The Gates of Hell, Rodin won other commissions. He pursued an opportunity to create a historical monument for the town of Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

. For a monument to French author Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

, Rodin was chosen in 1891. His execution of both sculptures clashed with traditional tastes, and met with varying degrees of disapproval from the organizations that sponsored the commissions. Still, Rodin was gaining support from diverse sources that propelled him toward fame.

In 1889, the Paris Salon invited Rodin to be a judge on its artistic jury. Though Rodin's career was on the rise, Claudel and Beuret were becoming increasingly impatient with Rodin's "double life". Claudel and Rodin shared an atelier at a small old castle, but Rodin refused to relinquish his ties to Beuret, his loyal companion during the lean years, and mother of his son. During one absence, Rodin wrote to Beuret, "I think of how much you must have loved me to put up with my caprices…I remain, in all tenderness, your Rodin." Claudel and Rodin parted in 1898. Claudel suffered a nervous breakdown several years later and was confined to an institution by her family until her death.

Works


In 1864, Rodin submitted his first sculpture for exhibition, The Man with the Broken Nose, to the Paris Salon
Paris Salon
The Salon , or rarely Paris Salon , beginning in 1725 was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Between 1748–1890 it was the greatest annual or biannual art event in the Western world...

. The subject was an elderly neighbourhood street porter. The unconventional bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 piece was not a traditional bust
Bust (sculpture)
A bust is a sculpted or cast representation of the upper part of the human figure, depicting a person's head and neck, as well as a variable portion of the chest and shoulders. The piece is normally supported by a plinth. These forms recreate the likeness of an individual...

, but instead the head was "broken off" at the neck, the nose was flattened and crooked, and the back of the head was absent, having fallen off the clay model in an accident. The work emphasized texture and the emotional state of the subject; it illustrated the "unfinishedness" that would characterize many of Rodin's later sculptures. The Salon rejected the piece.

Early figures: the inspiration of Italy


In Brussels, Rodin created his first full-scale work, The Age of Bronze
The Age of Bronze
The Age of Bronze is a bronze statue by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The figure is of a life-size nude male. When first exhibited at the 1877 Salon in Paris, Rodin was falsely accused of having made the statue by casting a living model, a charge that was vigorously denied. This charge...

, having returned from Italy. Modelled by a Belgian soldier, the figure drew inspiration from Michelangelo's Dying Slave
Dying Slave
The Dying Slave is a sculpture by the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Created between 1513 and 1516, it was to serve with another figure, the Rebellious Slave, at the tomb of Pope Julius II. It is a marble figure 2.28 metres in height, and is held at the Louvre, Paris.The man's left wrist...

, which Rodin had observed at the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

. Attempting to combine Michelangelo's mastery of the human form with his own sense of human nature, Rodin studied his model from all angles, at rest and in motion; he mounted a ladder for additional perspective, and made clay models, which he studied by candlelight. The result was a life-size, well-proportioned nude figure, posed unconventionally with his right hand atop his head, and his left arm held out at his side, forearm parallel to the body.

In 1877, the work debuted in Brussels and then was shown at the Paris Salon. The statue's apparent lack of a theme was troubling to critics—commemorating neither mythology nor a noble historical event — and it is not clear whether Rodin intended a theme. He first titled the work The Vanquished, in which form the left hand held a spear, but he removed the spear because it obstructed the torso from certain angles. After two more intermediary titles, Rodin settled on The Age of Bronze, suggesting the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, and in Rodin's words, "man arising from nature". Later, however, Rodin said that he had had in mind "just a simple piece of sculpture without reference to subject".

Its mastery of form, light, and shadow made the work look so realistic that Rodin was accused of surmoulage — having taken a cast from a living model. Rodin vigorously denied the charges, writing to newspapers and having photographs taken of the model to prove how the sculpture differed. He demanded an inquiry and was eventually exonerated by a committee of sculptors. Leaving aside the false charges, the piece polarized critics. It had barely won acceptance for display at the Paris Salon, and criticism likened it to "a statue of a sleepwalker" and called it "an astonishingly accurate copy of a low type". Others rallied to defend the piece and Rodin's integrity. The government minister Turquet admired the piece, and The Age of Bronze was purchased by the state for 2,200 franc
Franc
The franc is the name of several currency units, most notably the Swiss franc, still a major world currency today due to the prominence of Swiss financial institutions and the former currency of France, the French franc until the Euro was adopted in 1999...

s — what it had cost Rodin to have it cast in bronze.
A second male nude, St. John the Baptist Preaching, was completed in 1878. Rodin sought to avoid another charge of surmoulage by making the statue larger than life: St. John stands almost 6' 7" (2 m). While The Age of Bronze is statically posed, St. John gestures and seems to move toward the viewer. The effect of walking is achieved despite the figure having both feet firmly on the ground — a physical impossibility, and a technical achievement that was lost on most contemporary critics. Rodin chose this contradictory position to, in his words, "display simultaneously…views of an object which in fact can be seen only successively". Despite the title, St. John the Baptist Preaching did not have an obviously religious theme. The model, an Italian peasant who presented himself at Rodin's studio, possessed an idiosyncratic sense of movement that Rodin felt compelled to capture. Rodin thought of John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

, and carried that association into the title of the work. In 1880, Rodin submitted the sculpture to the Paris Salon. Critics were still mostly dismissive of his work, but the piece finished third in the Salon's sculpture category.

Regardless of the immediate receptions of St. John and The Age of Bronze, Rodin had achieved a new degree of fame. Students sought him at his studio, praising his work and scorning the charges of surmoulage. The artistic community knew his name.

The Gates of Hell



A commission to create a portal
Gate
A gate is a point of entry to a space enclosed by walls, or a moderately sized opening in a fence. Gates may prevent or control entry or exit, or they may be merely decorative. Other terms for gate include yett and port...

 for Paris' planned Museum of Decorative Arts was awarded to Rodin in 1880. Although the museum was never built, Rodin worked throughout his life on
The Gates of Hell
The Gates of Hell
The Gates of Hell is a monumental sculptural group work by French artist Auguste Rodin that depicts a scene from "The Inferno", the first section of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. It stands at 6 m high, 4 m wide and 1 m deep and contains 180 figures. The figures range from...

, a monumental sculptural group depicting scenes from Dante's
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 
Inferno
The Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321. It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature...

in high relief. Often lacking a clear conception of his major works, Rodin compensated with hard work and a striving for perfection. He conceived The Gates with the surmoulage controversy still in mind: "…I had made the St. John to refute [the charges of casting from a model], but it only partially succeeded. To prove completely that I could model from life as well as other sculptors, I determined…to make the sculpture on the door of figures smaller than life." Laws of composition gave way to the Gates disordered and untamed depiction of Hell. The figures and groups in this, Rodin's meditation on the condition of man, are physically and morally isolated in their torment.

The Gates of Hell comprised 186 figures in its final form. Many of Rodin's best-known sculptures started as designs of figures for this composition, such as The Thinker
The Thinker
The Thinker is a bronze and marble sculpture by Auguste Rodin, whose first cast, of 1902, is now in the Musée Rodin in Paris; there are some twenty other original castings as well as various other versions, studies, and posthumous castings. It depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a...

, The Three Shades, and The Kiss, and were only later presented as separate and independent works. Other well-known works derived from The Gates are Ugolino
Ugolino della Gherardesca
Count Ugolino della Gherardesca , count of Donoratico, was an Italian nobleman, politician and naval commander. He was frequently accused of treason and features prominently in Dante's Divine Comedy.-Biography:...

, Fugit Amor, The Falling Man, and The Prodigal Son.

The Thinker (originally titled The Poet, after Dante) was to become one of the most well-known sculptures in the world. The original was a 27.5 inches (698.5 mm)-high bronze piece created between 1879 and 1889, designed for the Gates' lintel, from which the figure would gaze down upon Hell. While The Thinker most obviously characterizes Dante, aspects of the Biblical Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

, the mythological Prometheus
Prometheus
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals...

, and Rodin himself have been ascribed to him. Other observers de-emphasize the apparent intellectual theme of The Thinker, stressing the figure's rough physicality and the emotional tension emanating from it.


The Burghers of Calais


The town of Calais had contemplated an historical monument for decades when Rodin learned of the project. He pursued the commission, interested in the medieval motif and patriotic theme. The mayor of Calais was tempted to hire Rodin on the spot upon visiting his studio, and soon the memorial was approved, with Rodin as its architect. It would commemorate the six townspeople of Calais who offered their lives to save their fellow citizens. During the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

, the army of King Edward III besieged Calais, and Edward ordered that the town's population be killed en masse. He agreed to spare them if six of the principal citizens would come to him prepared to die, bareheaded and barefooted and with ropes around their necks. When they came, he ordered that they be executed, but pardoned them when his queen, Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault
Philippa of Hainault, or, Philippe de Hainaut was the Queen consort of King Edward III of England. Edward, Duke of Guyenne, her future husband, promised in 1326 to marry her within the following two years...

, begged him to spare their lives. The Burghers of Calais
The Burghers of Calais
Les Bourgeois de Calais is one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1889. It serves as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year.-History:The...

depicts the men as they are leaving for the king's camp, carrying keys to the town's gates and citadel.

Rodin began the project in 1884, inspired by the chronicles of the siege by Jean Froissart
Jean Froissart
Jean Froissart , often referred to in English as John Froissart, was one of the most important chroniclers of medieval France. For centuries, Froissart's Chronicles have been recognized as the chief expression of the chivalric revival of the 14th century Kingdom of England and France...

. Though the town envisioned an allegorical, heroic piece centered on Eustache de Saint-Pierre, the eldest of the six men, Rodin conceived the sculpture as a study in the varied and complex emotions under which all six men were laboring. One year into the commission, the Calais committee was not impressed with Rodin's progress. Rodin indicated his willingness to end the project rather than change his design to meet the committee's conservative expectations, but Calais said to continue.

In 1889, The Burghers of Calais was first displayed to general acclaim. It is a bronze sculpture weighing two tons (1,814 kg), and its figures are 6.6 ft (2 m) tall. The six men portrayed do not display a united, heroic front; rather, each is isolated from his brothers, individually deliberating and struggling with his expected fate. Rodin soon proposed that the monument's high pedestal be eliminated, wanting to move the sculpture to ground level so that viewers could "penetrate to the heart of the subject". At ground level, the figures' positions lead the viewer around the work, and subtly suggest their common movement forward. The committee was incensed by the untraditional proposal, but Rodin would not yield. In 1895, Calais succeeded in having Burghers displayed in their preferred form: the work was placed in front of a public garden on a high platform, surrounded by a cast-iron railing. Rodin had wanted it located near the town hall, where it would engage the public. Only after damage during the First World War, subsequent storage, and Rodin's death was the sculpture displayed as he had intended. It is one of Rodin's best-known and most acclaimed works.

Commissions and controversy


Commissioned to create a monument to French writer Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

 in 1889, Rodin dealt extensively with the subject of artist and muse. Like many of Rodin's public commissions, Monument to Victor Hugo was met with resistance because it did not fit conventional expectations. Commenting on Rodin's monument to Victor Hugo, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

in 1909 expressed that "there is some show of reason in the complaint that [Rodin's] conceptions are sometimes unsuited to his medium, and that in such cases they overstrain his vast technical powers". The 1897 plaster model was not cast in bronze until 1964.

The Société des Gens des Lettres, a Parisian organization of writers, planned a monument to French novelist Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

 immediately after his death in 1850. The society commissioned Rodin to create the memorial in 1891, and Rodin spent years developing the concept for his sculpture. Challenged in finding an appropriate representation of Balzac given the author's rotund physique, Rodin produced many studies: portraits, full-length figures in the nude, wearing a frock coat
Frock coat
A frock coat is a man's coat characterised by knee-length skirts all around the base, popular during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The double-breasted style is sometimes called a Prince Albert . The frock coat is a fitted, long-sleeved coat with a centre vent at the back, and some features...

, or in a robe
Robe
A robe is a loose-fitting outer garment. A robe is distinguished from a cape or cloak by the fact that it usually has sleeves. The English word robe derives from Middle English robe , borrowed from Old French robe , itself taken from the Frankish word *rouba , and is related to the word rob...

—a replica of which Rodin had requested. The realized sculpture displays Balzac cloaked in the drapery, looking forcefully into the distance with deeply gouged features. Rodin's intent had been to show Balzac at the moment of conceiving a work — to express courage, labor, and struggle.

When Balzac was exhibited in 1898, the negative reaction was not surprising. The Société rejected the work, and the press ran parodies. Criticizing the work, Morey (1918) reflected, "there may come a time, and doubtless will come a time, when it will not seem outre to represent a great novelist as a huge comic mask crowning a bathrobe, but even at the present day this statue impresses one as slang." A modern critic, indeed, indicates that Balzac is one of Rodin's masterpieces. The monument had its supporters in Rodin's day; a manifesto defending him was signed by Monet, Debussy, and future Premier
Prime Minister of France
The Prime Minister of France in the Fifth Republic is the head of government and of the Council of Ministers of France. The head of state is the President of the French Republic...

 Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

, among many others.

Rather than try to convince skeptics of the merit of the monument, Rodin repaid the Société his commission and moved the figure to his garden. After this experience, Rodin did not complete another public commission. Only in 1939 was Monument to Balzac cast in bronze.

Other works



The popularity of Rodin's most famous sculptures tends to obscure his total creative output. A prolific artist, he created thousands of busts, figures, and sculptural fragments over more than five decades. He painted in oils
Oil painting
Oil painting is the process of painting with pigments that are bound with a medium of drying oil—especially in early modern Europe, linseed oil. Often an oil such as linseed was boiled with a resin such as pine resin or even frankincense; these were called 'varnishes' and were prized for their body...

 (especially in his thirties) and in watercolors
Watercolor painting
Watercolor or watercolour , also aquarelle from French, is a painting method. A watercolor is the medium or the resulting artwork in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-soluble vehicle...

. The Musée Rodin holds 7,000 of his drawings and prints, in chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 and charcoal
Charcoal
Charcoal is the dark grey residue consisting of carbon, and any remaining ash, obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. Charcoal is usually produced by slow pyrolysis, the heating of wood or other substances in the absence of oxygen...

, and thirteen vigorous drypoint
Drypoint
Drypoint is a printmaking technique of the intaglio family, in which an image is incised into a plate with a hard-pointed "needle" of sharp metal or diamond point. Traditionally the plate was copper, but now acetate, zinc, or plexiglas are also commonly used...

s. He also produced a single lithograph.

Portraiture was an important component of Rodin's oeuvre, helping him to win acceptance and financial independence. His first sculpture was a bust of his father in 1860, and he produced at least 56 portraits between 1877 and his death in 1917. Early subjects included fellow sculptor Jules Dalou
Jules Dalou
Aimé-Jules Dalou was a French sculptor, recognized as one of the most brilliant virtuosos of nineteenth-century France, admired for his perceptiveness, execution, and unpretentious realism.-Life:...

 (1883) and companion Camille Claudel (1884). Later, with his reputation established, Rodin made busts of prominent contemporaries such as English politician George Wyndham
George Wyndham
George Wyndham PC was a British Conservative politician, man of letters, noted for his elegance, and one of The Souls.-Background and education:...

 (1905), Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 (1906), Austrian composer Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

 (1909), former Argentinian president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento was an Argentine activist, intellectual, writer, statesman and the seventh President of Argentina. His writing spanned a wide range of genres and topics, from journalism to autobiography, to political philosophy and history...

 and French statesman Georges Clemenceau
Georges Clemenceau
Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French statesman, physician and journalist. He served as the Prime Minister of France from 1906 to 1909, and again from 1917 to 1920. For nearly the final year of World War I he led France, and was one of the major voices behind the Treaty of Versailles at the...

 (1911).

Aesthetic


Rodin was a naturalist, less concerned with monumental expression than with character and emotion. Departing with centuries of tradition, he turned away from the idealism of the Greeks, and the decorative beauty of the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 and neo-Baroque movements. His sculpture emphasized the individual and the concreteness of flesh, and suggested emotion through detailed, textured surfaces, and the interplay of light and shadow. To a greater degree than his contemporaries, Rodin believed that an individual's character was revealed by his physical features.

Rodin's talent for surface modeling allowed him to let every part of the body speak for the whole. The male's passion in The Kiss is suggested by the grip of his toes on the rock, the rigidness of his back, and the differentiation of his hands. Speaking of The Thinker, Rodin illuminated his aesthetic: "What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes."

Sculptural fragments to Rodin were autonomous works, and he considered them the essence of his artistic statement. His fragments—perhaps lacking arms, legs, or a head—took sculpture further from its traditional role of portraying likenesses, and into a realm where forms existed for their own sake. Notable examples are The Walking Man
The Walking Man
The Walking Man is a famous sculpture by the world-renowned French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The medium is bronze. It was created by Rodin during 1877 and 1878....

, Meditation without Arms, and Iris, Messenger of the Gods.

Rodin saw suffering and conflict as hallmarks of modern art. "Nothing, really, is more moving than the maddened beast, dying from unfulfilled desire and asking in vain for grace to quell its passion." Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire was a French poet who produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the nineteenth century...

 echoed those themes, and was among Rodin's favorite poets. Rodin enjoyed music, especially the opera composer Gluck, and wrote a book about French cathedrals. He owned a work by the as-yet-unrecognized Van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

, and admired the forgotten El Greco
El Greco
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος .El Greco was born on Crete, which was at...

.

Method


Instead of copying traditional academic postures, Rodin preferred his models to move naturally around his studio (despite their nakedness). The sculptor often made quick sketches in clay that were later fine-tuned, cast in plaster, and forged into bronze or carved in marble. Rodin's focus was on the handling of clay. George Bernard Shaw sat for a portrait and gave an idea of Rodin's technique: "While he worked, he achieved a number of miracles. At the end of the first fifteen minutes, after having given a simple idea of the human form to the block of clay, he produced by the action of his thumb a bust so living that I would have taken it away with me to relieve the sculptor of any further work." He described the evolution of his bust over a month, passing through "all the stages of art's evolution": first, a "Byzantine
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

 masterpiece", then "Bernini intermingled", then an elegant Houdon. "The hand of Rodin worked not as the hand of a sculptor works, but as the work of Elan Vital. The Hand of God is his own hand."

After he completed his work in clay, he employed highly-skilled assistants to re-sculpt his compositions at larger sizes (including any of his large-scale monuments such as the Thinker), to cast the clay compositions into plaster or bronze, and to carve his marbles. Rodin's major innovation was to capitalize on such multi-staged processes of nineteenth century sculpture and their reliance on plaster casting. Since clay deteriorates rapidly if not kept wet or fired into a terra-cotta, sculptors used plaster casts as a means of securing the composition they would make out of the fugitive material that is clay. This was common practice amongst Rodin's contemporaries, and sculptors would exhibit plaster casts with the hopes that they would be commissioned to have the works made in a more permanent material. Rodin, however, would have multiple plasters made and treat them as the raw material of sculpture, recombining their parts and figures into new compositions, and new names. As Rodin's practice developed into the 1890s, he became more and more radical in his pursuit of fragmentation, the combination of figures at different scales, and the making of new compositions from his earlier work. A prime example of this is the bold Walking Man (1899–1900), which was exhibited as his major one-person show in 1900. This is composed of two sculptures from the 1870s that Rodin found in his studio — a broken and damaged torso that had fallen into neglect and the lower extremities of a statuette version of his 1878 St. John the Baptist Preaching he was having re-sculpted at a reduced scale. Without finessing the join between upper and lower, between torso and legs, Rodin created a work that many sculptors at the time and subsequently have seen as one of his strongest and most singular works. This is despite the fact that the object conveys two different styles, exhibits two different attitudes toward finish, and lacks any attempt to hide the arbitrary fusion of these two components. It was the freedom and creativity with which Rodin used these practices — along with his activation surfaces of sculptures through traces of his own touch and with his more open attitude toward bodily pose, sensual subject matter, and non-realistic surface — that marked Rodin's re-making of traditional 19th c. sculptural techniques into the prototype for modern sculpture.

Later years


By 1900, Rodin's artistic reputation was entrenched. Gaining exposure from a pavilion of his artwork set up near the 1900 World's Fair
World's Fair
World's fair, World fair, Universal Exposition, and World Expo are various large public exhibitions held in different parts of the world. The first Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All...

 (Exposition Universelle) in Paris, he received requests to make busts of prominent people internationally, while his assistants at the atelier produced duplicates of his works. His income from portrait commissions alone totalled probably 200,000 francs a year. As Rodin's fame grew, he attracted many followers, including the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke
Rainer Maria Rilke
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke , better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian–Austrian poet. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language...

, and authors Octave Mirbeau
Octave Mirbeau
Octave Mirbeau was a French journalist, art critic, travel writer, pamphleteer, novelist, and playwright, who achieved celebrity in Europe and great success among the public, while still appealing to the literary and artistic avant-garde...

, Joris-Karl Huysmans
Joris-Karl Huysmans
Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans was a French novelist who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans . He is most famous for the novel À rebours...

, and Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

. Rilke stayed with Rodin in 1905 and 1906, and did administrative work for him; he would later write a laudatory monograph
Monograph
A monograph is a work of writing upon a single subject, usually by a single author.It is often a scholarly essay or learned treatise, and may be released in the manner of a book or journal article. It is by definition a single document that forms a complete text in itself...

 on the sculptor. Rodin and Beuret's modest country estate in Meudon
Meudon
Meudon is a municipality in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is in the département of Hauts-de-Seine. It is located from the center of Paris.-Geography:...

, purchased in 1897, was a host to such visitors as King Edward
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Edward VII was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910...

, dancer Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan was a dancer, considered by many to be the creator of modern dance. Born in the United States, she lived in Western Europe and the Soviet Union from the age of 22 until her death at age 50. In the United States she was popular only in New York, and only later in her life...

, and harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

ist Wanda Landowska
Wanda Landowska
Wanda Landowska was a Polish harpsichordist whose performances, teaching, recordings and writings played a large role in reviving the popularity of the harpsichord in the early 20th century...

. Rodin moved to the city in 1908, renting the main floor of the Hôtel Biron
Hôtel Biron
The Hôtel Biron is an hôtel particulier in the rue de Varenne, Paris VIIème, that was built by Jacques Gabriel and his associate designer Jean Aubert, in 1728-31 Since 1919 it has housed the Musée Auguste Rodin....

, an 18th-century townhouse. He left Beuret in Meudon, and began an affair with the American-born Duchesse de Choiseul.

Rodin and America


While Rodin was beginning to be accepted in France by the time of The Burghers of Calais, he had not yet conquered the American market and because of his technique and the frankness of some of his work, he did not have an easy time selling his work to American industrialists. Fortunately, he came to know Sarah Tyson Hallowell
Sarah Tyson Hallowell
Sarah Tyson Hallowell was an important American art curator in the years between the Civil War and World War I. She curated a number of major exhibitions in Chicago, arranged the loan exhibition of French Art at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, worked with Bertha Palmer to...

 (1846–1924), a curator from Chicago who visited Paris to arrange exhibitions at the large Interstate Expositions of the 1870s and 1880s. Hallowell was not only a curator but an adviser and a facilitator who was trusted by a number of prominent American collectors to suggest works for their collections, the most prominent of these being the Chicago hotelier Potter Palmer
Potter Palmer
Potter Palmer was an American businessman who was responsible for much of the development of State Street in Chicago.-Retailing career:...

 and his wife, Bertha Palmer
Bertha Palmer
Bertha Palmer was an American businesswoman, socialite, and philanthropist.- Biography :Born Bertha Matilde Honoré in Louisville, Kentucky, her father was businessman Henry Hamilton Honoré...

 (1849–1918). The next opportunity for Rodin in America was the 1893 Chicago World's Fair
World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...

. Hallowell wanted to help promote Rodin's work and he suggested a solo exhibition, which she wrote him was beaucoup moins beau que l'original but impossible, outside the rules. Instead, she suggested he send a number of works for her loan exhibition of French art from American collections and she told him she would list them as being part of an American collection. Rodin sent Hallowell three works, Cupid and Psyche, Sphinx and Andromeda. All nudes, these works provoked great controversy and were ultimately hidden behind a drape with special permission given for viewers to see them. Fortunately, Bust of Dalou and Burgher of Calais were on display in the official French pavilion at the fair and so between the works that were on display and those that were not, he was noticed. However, the works he gave Hallowell to sell found no takers, but she soon brought the controversial Quaker-born financier Charles Yerkes
Charles Yerkes
Charles Tyson Yerkes was an American financier, born in Philadelphia. He played a major part in developing mass-transit systems in Chicago and London.-Philadelphia:...

 (1837–1905) into the fold and he purchased two large marbles for his Chicago manse; Yerkes was likely the first American to own a Rodin sculpture. Other collectors soon followed including the tastemaking Potter Palmers of Chicago and Isabella Stewart Gardner
Isabella Stewart Gardner
Isabella Stewart Gardner – founder of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston – was an American art collector, philanthropist, and one of the foremost female patrons of the arts....

 (1840–1924) of Boston, all arranged by Sarah Hallowell. In appreciation for her efforts at unlocking the American market, Rodin eventually presented Hallowell with a bronze, a marble and a terra cotta. When Hallowell moved to Paris in 1893, she and Rodin continued their warm friendship and correspondence, which lasted to the end of the sculptor's life. After Hallowell's death, her niece, the painter Harriet Hallowell
Harriet Hallowell
Harriet Hallowell was an expatriate American artist who lived in France for almost fifty years. She was born in Boston to a distinguished and artistic Quaker family. During the First World War, The Great War, in the British vernacular of the time, she remained in France and was an industrious...

, inherited the Rodin's and after her death, the American heirs could not manage to match their value in order to export them, so they became the property of the French state.

Great Britain


After the turn of the century, Rodin was a regular visitor to Great Britain, where he developed a loyal following by the beginning of the First World War. He first visited England in 1881, where his friend, the artist Alphonse Legros
Alphonse Legros
Alphonse Legros , painter, etcher and sculptor was born in Dijon. His father was an accountant, and came from the neighbouring village of Véronnes....

, had introduced him to the poet William Ernest Henley
William Ernest Henley
William Ernest Henley was an English poet, critic and editor, best remembered for his 1875 poem "Invictus".-Life and career:...

. With his personal connections and enthusiasm for Rodin's art, Henley was most responsible for Rodin's reception in Britain. (Rodin later returned the favor by sculpting a bust of Henley that was used as the frontispiece to Henley's collected works and, after his death, on his monument in London.) Through Henley, Rodin met Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer. His best-known books include Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde....

 and Robert Browning
Robert Browning
Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.-Early years:...

, in whom he found further support. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of British artists, students, and high society for his art, Rodin donated a significant selection of his works to the nation in 1914.

After the revitalization of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890, Rodin served as the body's vice-president. In 1903, Rodin was elected president of the International Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers. He replaced its former president, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, upon Whistler's death. His election to the prestigious position was largely due to the efforts of Albert Ludovici, father of English philosopher Anthony Ludovici
Anthony Ludovici
Anthony Mario Ludovici, was an English philosopher, Nietzschean sociologist and social critic. He is best known, perhaps, as a proponent of aristocracy, and in the early 20th century was a leading British conservative author...

.

During his later creative years, Rodin's work turned increasingly toward the female form, and themes of more overt masculinity and femininity. He concentrated on small dance studies, and produced numerous erotic drawings
Erotic art
Erotic art covers any artistic work that is intended to evoke erotic arousal or that depicts scenes of love-making. It includes paintings, engravings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, music and writing.-Definition:...

, sketched in a loose way, without taking his pencil from the paper or his eyes from the model. Rodin met American dancer Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan
Isadora Duncan was a dancer, considered by many to be the creator of modern dance. Born in the United States, she lived in Western Europe and the Soviet Union from the age of 22 until her death at age 50. In the United States she was popular only in New York, and only later in her life...

 in 1900, attempted to seduce her, and the next year sketched studies of her and her students. In July 1906, Rodin was also enchanted by dancers from the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, and produced some of his most famous drawings from the experience.

Fifty-three years into their relationship, Rodin married Rose Beuret. The wedding was 29 January 1917, and Beuret died two weeks later, on 16 February. Rodin was ill that year; in January, he suffered weakness from influenza
Influenza
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae , that affects birds and mammals...

, and on 16 November his physician announced that "congestion of the lungs has caused great weakness. The patient's condition is grave." Rodin died the next day, age 77, at his villa in Meudon, Île-de-France
Île-de-France (région)
Île-de-France is the wealthiest and most populated of the twenty-two administrative regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area....

, on the outskirts of Paris. A cast of The Thinker was placed next to his tomb in Meudon; it was Rodin's wish that the figure serve as his headstone
Headstone
A headstone, tombstone, or gravestone is a marker, usually stone, that is placed over a grave. In most cases they have the deceased's name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on them, along with a personal message, or prayer.- Use :...

 and epitaph
Epitaph
An epitaph is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial...

. In 1923, Marcell Tirel, Rodin's secretary, published a book alleging that Rodin's death was largely due to cold, and the fact that he had no heat at Meudon. Rodin requested permission to stay in the Hotel Biron
Hôtel Biron
The Hôtel Biron is an hôtel particulier in the rue de Varenne, Paris VIIème, that was built by Jacques Gabriel and his associate designer Jean Aubert, in 1728-31 Since 1919 it has housed the Musée Auguste Rodin....

, a museum of his works, but the director of the museum refused to let him stay there.

Legacy


Rodin willed to the French state his studio and the right to make casts from his plasters. Because he encouraged the edition of his sculpted work, Rodin's sculptures are represented in many public and private collections.
The Musée Rodin
Musée Rodin
The Musée Rodin in Paris, France, is a museum that was opened in 1919 in the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds. It displays works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin....

 was founded in 1916 and opened in 1919 at the Hôtel Biron
Hôtel Biron
The Hôtel Biron is an hôtel particulier in the rue de Varenne, Paris VIIème, that was built by Jacques Gabriel and his associate designer Jean Aubert, in 1728-31 Since 1919 it has housed the Musée Auguste Rodin....

, where Rodin had lived, and it holds the largest Rodin collection, with more than 6,000 sculptures and 7,000 works on paper.
The relative ease of making reproductions has also encouraged many forgeries: a survey of expert opinion placed Rodin in the top ten most-faked artists. Rodin fought against forgeries of his works as early as 1901, and since his death, many cases of organized, large-scale forgeries have been revealed. A massive forgery was discovered by French authorities in the early 1990s and led to the conviction of art dealer Guy Hain
Guy Hain
Guy Hain is a French art forger who produced number of fake bronze sculptures.Guy Hain begun as a seller of veterinary products. In his job he met a number of veterinarians who had antique bronze sculptures of animals and developed an interest of them. In 1962 he spent 550,000.00 French francs for...

.

To deal with the complexity of bronze reproduction, France has promulgated several laws since 1956 which limit reproduction to twelve casts—the maximum number that can be made from an artist's plasters and still be considered his work. As a result of this limit, The Burghers of Calais
The Burghers of Calais
Les Bourgeois de Calais is one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1889. It serves as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year.-History:The...

, for example, is found in fourteen cities.

In the market for sculpture, plagued by fakes, the value of a piece increases significantly when its provenance can be established. A Rodin work with a verified history sold for US$4.8 million in 1999, and Rodin's bronze Eve, grand modele—version sans rocher sold for $18.9 million at a 2008 Christie's
Christie's
Christie's is an art business and a fine arts auction house.- History :The official company literature states that founder James Christie conducted the first sale in London, England, on 5 December 1766, and the earliest auction catalogue the company retains is from December 1766...

 auction in New York. Art critics concerned about authenticity have argued that taking a cast does not equal reproducing a Rodin sculpture—especially given the importance of surface treatment in Rodin's work.
During his lifetime, Rodin was compared to Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

, and was widely recognized as the greatest artist of the era. In the three decades following his death, his popularity waned with changing aesthetic values. Since the 1950s, Rodin's reputation has re-ascended; he is recognized as the most important sculptor of the modern era, and has been the subject of much scholarly work. The sense of incompletion offered by some of his sculpture, such as The Walking Man, influenced the increasingly abstract sculptural forms of the 20th century. Though highly honoured for his artistic accomplishments, Rodin did not spawn a significant, lasting school of followers. His notable students included Antoine Bourdelle
Antoine Bourdelle
Antoine Bourdelle , originally Émile Antoine Bourdelle, was an influential and prolific French sculptor, painter, and teacher.-Career:...

, Charles Despiau
Charles Despiau
Charles Despiau was a French sculptor.Despiau was born at Mont-de-Marsan, Landes and attended first the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and later the Ecole des Beaux Arts...

, the American Malvina Hoffman
Malvina Hoffman
Malvina Hoffman , was an American sculptor and author, well known for her life-size bronze sculptures of people...

, and his mistress Camille Claudel
Camille Claudel
Camille Claudel was a French sculptor and graphic artist. She was the elder sister of the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel.- Early years :...

, whose sculpture received praise in France. The French order Légion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

made him a Commander, and he received an honorary doctorate
Honorary degree
An honorary degree or a degree honoris causa is an academic degree for which a university has waived the usual requirements, such as matriculation, residence, study, and the passing of examinations...

 from the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

.

Rodin restored an ancient role of sculpture—to capture the physical and intellectual force of the human subject—and he freed sculpture from the repetition of traditional patterns, providing the foundation for greater experimentation in the 20th century. His popularity is ascribed to his emotion-laden representations of ordinary men and women—to his ability to find the beauty and pathos in the human animal. His most popular works, such as The Kiss and The Thinker, are widely used outside the fine arts as symbols of human emotion and character.

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