Rodin based this sculptural group work on Inferno, the first section of Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy, the narrative of which traces Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. The couple was discovered and killed by Giovanni as they exchanged their first kiss, condemned to wander eternally through Hell. Roding created a sculpture which depicts the burghers going towards the city gate to meet their fate, capturing a poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death. The sculpture was commissioned by Rodin in 1884, who designed the figure as one of six colossal statues forming a monument to a group of 14-century citizens of the northern French town of Calais. © 2013-2020 Widewalls | Featured image: Auguste Rodin - Burghers of Calais, 1884-1895. The sculpture was exhibited in plaster at the 1880 Paris Salon, and again the following year later in bronze, This sculpture was made from a plaster study of a pair of legs for Rodin’s earlier piece, Saint John the Baptist Preaching, and a study of a torso that was most likely also for Saint John. Their lives were however spared by the intervention of England's queen, Philippa of Hainault, who persuaded her husband to show mercy. The Musée Rodin was opened in 1919 in Paris, and was followed by another museum dedicated to his artwork in Philadelphia. The wish of the artist was realized only later after the sculpture was moved in front of the newly completed town hall of Calais. For The Gates of Hell, Rodin was inspired by Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, the famous pair of gilded bronze doors that he had made for the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence. Although the museum did not come to fruition and the doors were never fully realized, The Gates of Hell became the defining project of Rodin's career and a key to understanding his artistic aims. First commissioned by the Société des Gens de Lettre in 1898, the work was rejected under criticism. Auguste Rodin is today regarded as the central figure at the beginning of modern sculpture and his artistic heritage is marked by the rise of a complex and experimental avant-garde. Much like The Age of Bronze, this piece was unlike most sculptures that had been created by French artists in the 19th century, which were generally rooted in a historical or mythological context. Auguste Rodin conceived the bronze sculpture to be the crowning element of the composition, seated on the tympanum. The sculptor depicted Balzac leaning backwards, appearing unkempt, and wearing an oversized cloak that was inspired by the robe Balzac often wore when writing at night. Aiming to express the fleeting mobility of the modern individual, Rodin created rougher, more unfinished surfaces, which better expressed restlessness, corporeality, and movement. According to Froissart, after Calais was besieged by English forces, King Edward III (of England) ordered that the keys of the city to be handed over, and that six principal citizens of Calais volunteer their lives. There’s even an installation shaped like The Thinker at a toilet theme park in South Korea. The early influence of sorrowed surfaces created by Rodin could be seen in Picasso’s Head of a Woman and Matisse’s series of Jeannette busts. If he's not reading something by Victor Hugo, then he's probably on a ridiculously long bike ride in the south of France. Originally titled Francesca da Rimini, it depicts the 13th-century Italian noblewoman immortalized in Dante's Inferno who falls in love with her husband Giovanni Malatesta's younger brother Paolo. A monumental sculptural work standing 6 meters high, 4 meters wide and 1 meter deep, The Gates of Hell is composed of 180 figures depicting a scene from Dante Alighieri's Inferno. However, the doors themselves were only cast in bronze after Rodin’s death. This particular sculpture, which was originally titled The Ark of the Covenant, shows two right hands whose fingers are about to touch. Now, the statue is now understood as symbolic of Balzac’s spirit and creativity – Augste Rodin himself stated “I think of his intense labour, of the difficulty of his life, of his incessant battles and of his great courage. Today, there are twelve original castings of the sculpture, including the ones in Rodin Museum in Paris, France, Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, Kunstmuseum in Basel, and the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, among others. In 1917, Léonce Bénédite, the Musée Rodin’s first curator, persuaded the artist to allow him to reconstruct his masterpiece in order to have it cast in bronze. Born in 1840 into a working-class family in Paris, France, Auguste Rodin was largely self-educated and began to draw at age 10. I would express all that.”. Since 1993, they have been regularly cleaned and treated so as to preserve their original patinas. This larger version was displayed at the 1904 Salon, after which its popularity grew immensely. To share his passion with others, he set up The French Desk and has now begun to write books that aim to help learners of all stages improve their French. The Kiss originally represented Francesco and Paolo, characters from The Divine Comedy. Most of Rodin's major works are housed in the Rodin Museum, which is located on the Left Bank of Paris within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was a French sculptor who has long been hailed as a modern-day Michelangelo. Museum sales include She who once was the Helmet-Maker’s Beautiful Wife to the Van Gogh Museum and the correspondence between the artist and his model, Sybil Mignon Cooke, to the Musée Rodin. Rodin’s commission was subsequently cancelled and it was not until 1939 that a bronze cast was put up in Paris. It is now one of the most recognisable sculptures and exists today in many casts and sizes all over the world. Most of Rodin's major works are housed in the Rodin Museum, which is located on the Left Bank of Paris within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. One of the wealthiest of the town leaders, Eustache de Saint Pierre, volunteered first, and five other burghers joined with him. Featured image: Auguste Rodin - The Thinker, 1880, cast 1904. Stretching over three hectares, the grounds were then divided into a rose garden, north of the Hôtel Biron, and a large ornamental garden, to the south, while a terrace and hornbeam hedge backing onto a trellis concealed a relaxation area, at the bottom of the garden. Auguste Roudin deliberately made this sculpture slightly larger than life-size following accusations that The Age of Bronze was casted directly from the live model. Featured image: Auguste Rodin - The Gates of Hell, 1880 - circa 1890. It also subverted contemporary academic tradition with its armless, headless form. Two thematic walks were also laid out: in the east, plants thrive amidst the rockery in the “Garden of Orpheus”, and, in the west, water is omnipresent in the “Garden of Springs”. One of the best known Rodin's sculptures, Les Bourgeois de Calais commemorates an event during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, a French port on the English Channel, was under siege by Edward III for about eleven months. > Discover the charm of a café located in the heart of the garden, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (U.S.A.), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (U.S.A.), Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art (Japan), Art Gallery of South Australia, (Australia). A 1882 marble sculpture by Rodin, The Kiss depicts the embracing nude couple. The piece was initially supposed to be exhibited at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, France, but was still unfinished. The sculptor later wrote “When I saw him, I was immediately struck; this rough, dishevelled man expressed through his gait, his features, and his physical force, all the violence, but also all the mystical character, of his race. There are several copies of the work in bronze and marble which exist today. In any event, Antiquity implies nature. These include The Thinker, The Kiss, The Three Shades and Eternal Springtime. In this way, the artist created a powerful evocation of the visionary genius draped in the monk’s habit he used to wear when writing. It was cast in bronze 22 years after the sculptor's death and placed in Paris. In 1898, after years of research and experimentation, Rodin completed the plaster original from which the bronze statue was later cast. He also renamed this larger version The Walking Man (it had previously been titled A Study for Saint John the Baptist.). © Agence photographique du musée Rodin - Jérôme Manoukian.
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