1854, fourteen-year-old Auguste Rodin enrolled in
the Petite Ecole, which was a Paris training school
in the decorative arts--everything from decorating
china to painting silk. He wanted to be an artist.
When he graduated, he applied to the renowned Ecole
des Beaux-arts. He was rejected. He applied again
a year later and was again rejected. Thinking the
third time to be the charm, he tried yet again but
with the same results.
he began to work as a studio helper doing decorative
details on the work of a Paris sculptor. He never
did get to go to college and study art, but he was
an artist, with or without formal training. It took
him another fourteen years, but by the early 1870s,
he'd saved enough money for a trip to Italy where
he fell under the spell of Michelangelo.
his return, he crafted his first masterpiece, The
Age of Bronze. It was accepted into the 1877
Paris Salon show. It didn't win an award, but gained
him a great degree of exposure and the backhanded
compliment of a controversial accusation of having
utilised plaster casts of a live model in creating
his life-size bronze sculpture of a nude male figure.
Critics found it difficult to accept the fact that
a virtually self-taught sculptor such as Rodin could
craft such exacting replicas of the human anatomy
by any other means. It was a plight that was to
follow him during much of his career.
the next ten years, Rodin worked on figures composing
a monumental set of bronze doors for the museum
of decorative arts then under construction in Paris.
The massive grouping was called the--The Gates
of Hell. And inasmuch as the commission was
never completed, Rodin no doubt considered the work
aptly named. From it though, came a number of individual
figures, the most famous of which was his trademark
The Thinker. By 1880, at least six had
1886, he put to rest once and for all any doubt
he might be guilty of using plaster casts. His immortal
The Kiss was cut from pristine white marble;
and in its exquisite, erotic beauty, set Rodin on
the same plane as his much idolised Michelangelo
and the Baroque sculptor, Gianlorenzo Bernini, as
master of the carved human figure.
a year before his death in 1917, Rodin donated his
entire art collection to the French government.
Except for a few public monuments located elsewhere
(such as the Burghers of Calais), the life's work
of this born artist, including bronze portraits
of famous literary figures such as Victor Hugo and
George Bernard Shaw, can be seen today at the Musée
Rodin in Paris.
Biography from "A Fine Disregard", by