Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917) is renowned as one of the foremost French sculptors of the 19th century, celebrated for his expressive and modern depictions of the human form in bronze as well as other materials. Rodin was born in Paris, and studied decorative arts and sculpture intensely at the Petite École while still in his youth; although he wished to continue his practice, he was rejected by the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts three times by the age of 18. He began creating works commercially to help support his family, and after the death of his sister at a young age, briefly joined a religious order. There he was encouraged to return to what he was most passionate about—painting and sculpting—and he eventually returned to creating work commercially by day and pursuing his own work by night in the 1860s.

During these early years, he often used his lifelong partner Rose Bueret as a model, in addition to creating other figurative sculptures such as Man with a Broken Nose in bronze, which were rejected by the Salon. Rodin traveled to Rome in the 1870s, where he was inspired to create works with more classical subject matter. Upon his return to Paris he created several polemical works, such as Saint John the Baptist, which incited controversy for its portrayal of a saint as an unidealized nude. In 1880, Rodin received a commission from the French Ministry of Fine Arts to create The Gates of Hell, a monumental bronze work that eventually lead to the creation of many of his later sculptures, including The Thinker and The Three Shades. Rodin’s reputation grew throughout the 1880s, and his production and workshop expanded as he made more freestanding sculptures and bronze busts of friends and acquaintances from Parisian high society. Rodin’s later monumental series, including the moving narrative of the The Burghers of Calais created on commission for the town of Calais, France, and his portraits of Balzac, confirmed his status as a sculptor with uniquely expressive abilities. In 1900, an entire pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair exhibited his work, and during the final years of his life he had as many as 50 assistants helping him complete the high number of commissions he received. He died just outside of Paris in 1917. Today his work can be found in the collections of the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, the Cantor Center in California, the Musée Rodin in Paris, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Tate in London, among many other institutions.

Timeline

1840
Born November 12th in Paris, France
1854–1857
Attended the school of decorative arts and studied under sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux
1862
After the death of his older sister, Maria, he joined a Christian order for a few years and turned away from art
1866
Had a son with lifelong companion Rose Beuret but never married her or legally claimed paternity on the child
1875
First entry accepted into the Paris Salon, "The Man with the Broken Nose"
1877
Returned to Paris, with Rose, and settled on the West Bank
1880
Commissioned by French government to design doorway for the Museum of Decorative Arts
1893
"The Kiss" brought to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and rejected for being too erotic for public display
1917
Died November 7th in Meudon, France

Exhibitions

2006–2007
Sept. 23 - Jan. 1, "Rodin", Royal Academy of Arts
2006
Jan. 28 - April 30, "Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession", Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
2005–2006
Sept. 27 - Jan. 29, "Masques et Tissus d'egypte", Musee Rodin, Paris
2005–2006
Nov. 17 - Feb. 26, "Rodin, Brancusi, Giacometti, Louis Borgeois, Vermeiren...", Musee Rodin, Paris
2005–2006
Oct. 22 - Jan. 15, "Die Obere Halfte - Die Buste Seit Auguste Rodin", Kunsthalle Emden, Ostfriesland, Germany
2005–2006
Sept. 25 - Jan. 29, "Lehmbruck, Rodin, Maillol", Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisbourg, Germany
2005
Sept. 3 - Nov. 20, " Aristide Maillol - Bildhauer, Maler, Zeichner, Graphiker", Kunsthaus Apolda, Germany
2005
Sept. 9 - Nov. 27, "Rodin Beuys", Kunsthalle Schirn, Frankfurt, Germany
2005
Sept. 4 - Nov. 20, "Rodin - Skulpturen, Awuarelle, Fotografien", Stadtmuseum, Jena, Germany
2005
May 26 - Sept. 11, "Camille Claudel & Rodin: Fateful Encounter", Musee National des Beaux-arts du Quebec
2005
May, "Mes Tresors Antiques", Musee Rodin, Paris
2005
June 6 - Sept. 10, "Hommes", Musee Rodin, Paris