Biography of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

French sculptor, considered by some art critics as one of the best portraitists in bronze and marble of the history of sculpture. From their creations more known, such as the thinker and the Kiss, to the monumental sculptures of Victor Hugo and Honore de Balzac, his works consecrate him as one of the best and most influential artists of the 20th century.

The thinker. Auguste Rodin.


His training as an artist was born in Paris in 1840 in a humble family, at the age of 13 he/she began to study drawing and modeling at a school in Paris. With 17 years he/she entered the school of fine arts. A year later (1858) he/she began to earn a living as a stonemason making decorative objects. He/She completed his sculptural education with masters such as Dalou, Cazin, Maindron and Klagmann.

In 1862 died his sister Marie, which was very attached. The sadness that descended led him to consider the possibility to dedicate his life to the Church, but in 1864 he/she met the young Rose Beuret, who was his companion throughout his life; they married in 1917, a few months before the death of the great sculptor.

In 1864 Rodin, who was already working as a sculptor along with Carrier-Belleuse, presented his first work at the Paris Salon, the man from the broken nose, which was rejected. This fact determined the beginning of their independent work. In 1871, also with Carrier-Belleuse, he/she worked on decorations for major public monuments in Brussels, after which was devoted to the execution of decorative bronzes, activity that survived but that didn't allow him to develop a completely personal style.

In 1835, he/she traveled to Italy, a country that was vividly impressed and where he/she visited, among other cities, Genoa, Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice. The knowledge of the work of Miguel Ángel and Donatello already determined a conscious departure from academic still dominating him. Under this double influence made the vanquished, considered his first original work, work that caused a great scandal in Brussels artistic circles and at the Paris Salon, where it was exhibited years later with the title of the bronze age. Master painful expression embodied in bronze and realistic an expired energy capture provoked deep criticism in their contemporaries, who accused him even having accomplished your mold about a living person.

In 1877, Rodin returned to Paris from Italy. Two years later (1879), his former master Carrier-Belleuse, appointed director of the porcelain factory in Sèvres, commissioned several designs. At the time, arose to different contests for the erection of public monuments, both in London and in Paris, where it was rejected. Finally got a statue commissioned for the Hotel de Ville in Paris. That same year, his work, now titled the age of bronze, was admitted to the Paris Salon, as already stated above, which meant official recognition and reputation of sculptor.

Thus, with 40 years, Rodin managed to assert their personal style and began his real career as front-row figure. He/She received a first assignment to make a bronze door for the future Museum of decorative arts in Paris, which allowed him to have two workshops where work and assured him of economic stability. This gate of bronze, one of the largest efforts of Rodin, should be completed in 1884, but in 1917 when occurred the death of sculptor, was still unfinished. In her scenes of the Divine Comedy of Dante, are represented by that on more than one occasion has been called the hell's Gate; in this work, Rodin raises the conception that the Renaissance master Ghiberti in his gates of paradise, of the baptistery of Florence. But this initial plan was completely altered to make a trip to London in 1881 at the invitation of the painter Alphonse Legros. The work of the pre-raphaelites, many of them inspired by the work of Dante, particularly the works of William Blakehe met in London. This experience changed its initial conception on the doors in which, from that moment, sought to portray a troubled universe of torment, pain, and death. This new approach led him to the creation of independent figures such as his famous thinker, who was originally conceived as the portrait of Dante sitting next to the door.

In 1884 he/she received a Commission for a monument in Calais. Rodin made for this occasion his work the Burghers of Calais, which was settled in place of destination in 1895. At the time that settled and grew the reputation of the artist, his private life became increasingly more turbulent. In 1885 he/she loved one of his students, Camille Claudel, sister of the poet Paul Claudel, who held a stormy romance ended in 1898. During these years Rodin made numerous sculptures of pairs which demonstrates the passion and desire. Perhaps the most sensual of these groups is the work titled the Kiss, which is considered his masterpiece. Originally conceived as Paolo and Francesca, to the gates of hell.

Despite its indisputable success Rodin kept numerous conflicts with L'Institut de France, the National Academy of art and the public. For a decade was devoted to run four monuments: one dedicated to the landscape painter Claude Lorrain, another Argentine President Domingo Sarmiento, and two other writers Victor Hugo and Honore de Balzac; all of them caused outrage in places for which they were intended.

In 1886 he/she was commissioned to make the monument to Victor Hugo for the Pantheon of France. Nude performed caused such scandal that has left the project. In 1909 another Victor Hugo, also naked but sitting, was inducted into the Pantheon of the men of France. In 1891, the Société des Gens de Lettres (society of the men of letters), he/she commissioned the monument to Balzac, that Rodin spent long hours of study. He/She conceived the writer as a large menhir, foreshadowing with the simplicity of modern art. His work exhibited in the Salon of 1898 generated a violent discussion, in which future French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceauhotly defended the artist. Rodin eventually returned the money to the society and withdrew his work, which in 1939 was settled in Montmartre.

In the Pavilion of the Universal exhibition in Paris in 1900, more than 150 of his works, sculptures and drawings, were exposed, which consolidated its international fame and attracted him innumerable commissions. After exposure, it moved to Meudon where he/she had acquired a property in 1896. This residence became a large workshop in which employed a large number of assistants; It became, really, a businessman of the sculpture that catered orders of United States, Germany, England and France; for your workshop carried out exclusively models, the bronze work and devastate the marble was made by his aides.

In this almost industrial activity also employed a large number of Secretaries, including for a time the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilkewas found.

He enjoyed great fame in England, which had many friends who visited often. Also there he/she completed works, as the monument to William Henley to Westminster Abbey. In 1907 he/she was appointed Doctor honoris causa by the University of Oxford. It was visited by the rey Eduardo VII in his studio in Meudon in 1908.

That same year Rodin purchased a residence in Paris, the Hôtel Biron, a beautiful Mansion from the 18th century, with a huge garden. In its acquisition Rodin signed an agreement with the French State whereby the sculptor donated all his work to the State in Exchange for this keep and founded in Hôtel Biron the Rodin Museum. These negotiations, carried out by Judith Cladel and Marcelle Tirel, were difficult because of the continuous interventions of the lovers of the sculptor, who tried to take possession of his inheritance. The agreement was finally consummated in 1916.

Among his accomplishments are not sculptures only illustrations of books, etchings and drawings of nudes, mostly female. Rodin was also a lover of the art of the middle ages and devoted a lot of effort to write the book the cathedrals of France, in 1914.

He died on November 17, 1917 at his residence in Meudon. In his honor held a solemn funeral in Westminster Abbey in London.

In 2002, the Burghers of Calais or the bronze age were exposed in Salamanca, European city of culture, some of the most representative works of Rodin, the thinker, the Kiss, Balzac.

Main works

The man from the broken nose. 1864, museum Paris Rodin. Young woman with flowers in the hair. 1865-1870, museum Paris Rodin. Young mother with child. 1865-1870, museum Paris Rodin. The bronze age. 1876, Institute of art of Minneapolis Minnesota San Juan Baptist preaching. In 1878, Museum of modern art in New York. The gates of hell. 1880-1917, museum Rodin of Philadelphia. The thinker. In 1880, museum Paris Rodin. Adam. In 1880, museum Rodin of Philadelphia. Eva. 1881. Toledo Museum of art, Ohio small man's broken nose. In 1882, museum Paris Rodin. The Burghers of Calais. 1884-1886, collection New Joseph York H. Hirshhorn. The slaves. 1885, museum Paris Rodin. The kiss. 1886, Tate Gallery, London. Naked Balzac. From 1893, museum Paris Rodin. Balzac. In 1897, museum Paris Rodin. Victor Hugo. In 1897, museum Paris Rodin. Walker. 1905, museum Paris Rodin. George Bernard Shaw. In 1906, museum Paris Rodin. Nijinsky. In 1912, museum Paris Rodin.


BURCKHARDT, C.J.: Rodin und das plastische Problem. Paris, 1921.

CLADEL, Judith: Auguste Rodin: the work and the hombre.1917

DESCHARNES, Robert and Chabrun, J.F.: Auguste Rodin. Paris, 1967.

FAYARD, Wikia: Rodin, a passionate life. Madrid, 1990.

GOLDSCHEIDER, Cecile: Rodin. 2 vols. Barcelona, 1965.

LAURENT, Monique: Rodin. Barcelona, 1990.