Auguste Rodin was born in 1840 to a family of modest means; little about their life suggested that he would later be considered among the greatest sculptural portraitists of all time. At 13, Rodin decided to study drawing and four years later, he applied but failed to gain a place at the esteemed École des Beaux-Arts. His two subsequent applications were also rejected. Instead, he took a position in Albert Carrier-Belleuse’s studio, where he remained for five years.
In February 1876, Rodin travelled to Italy, where he studied antique statuary and works by Donatello and, particularly, Michelangelo. It was there that he began to develop the highly expressive, potent style for which he would become so well known, breathing life into clay to convey intense human emotions of love, ecstasy, agony or grief.
The following winter, Rodin created Le Vainçu, his first original work; it was accepted for the Salon of 1877 where it was given the title L'Age d'Airain (The Age of Bronze). Owing to its naturalism — what would later become the hallmark of Rodin’s practice — the work was met with controversy, but it led to the commission of La Porte de l'Enfer (The Gates of Hell) (1880) for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Although this complex doorway was only cast posthumously, it was nevertheless to be his masterpiece. Many of Rodin’s greatest works, including Le Baiser (The Kiss) (1885), Le Penseur (The Thinker) (1880), Eve (1881) and many others, originated from The Gates of Hell.
In the coming decades, Rodin would go on to execute a series of remarkable bronzes including Monument aux Bourgeois de Calais (1889), Le Monument à Balzac (1898), and Monument à Victor Hugo (1897) for the Panthéon. This was also when he met Camille Claudel, the love of his life and a sculptor herself. Their shared passion would infuse both their practices.
It wasn’t until 1900, however, that Rodin began to receive international acclaim, following his triumphant exhibition at that year’s Exposition Universelle. Considered by many to be the father of modern sculpture, in addition to his work in bronze and marble, Rodin also made etchings, illustrations and drawings.
By the time of his death in 1917, Rodin had been eclipsed by more avant-garde movements, but today he is recognised as a master of modernism.
Baiser, moyen modèle dit "Taille de la Porte" - modèle avec base simplifiée
Le Baiser, moyen modèle dit "Taille de la Porte" (modèle avec base simplifiée)
Buste de Pallas dit aussi "Buste de Mme Russell en Pallas," version avec casque en argent