1940 – 1917
Rodin was born in Paris in 1840. He studied with Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran and was also a pupil of Antoine-Louis Barye. (the Bronze Lion by Barye was stolen from Rivermill in 1987).
In his early career, he worked as an ornamental mason in the workshops of Carrier-Belleuse. His first major work, The Age of Bronze, was greatly influenced by Michelangelo. When The Age of Bronze was first exhibited, it caused a sensation as people felt that it was so life-like that the artist must have cast it from a live model.
In 1880 he embarked on The Gates of Hell, a major state commission for the Musée des Arts Decoratifs. The work was made up of over 200 individual figures and many, such as The Thinker, became well-known in their own right. In their time, the unfinished surfaces and the emotional intensity of many of Rodin’s sculptures provoked controversy: a prime example is the Burghers of Calais (1885-95), a bronze version of which can be seen in Victoria Gardens, London. Nevertheless, his work was particularly influential, especially with other artists. At the turn of the century, he became internationally renowned and received a number of honours and accolades. Subsequently, he came to be regarded as the founder of modern sculpture.
Rodin encouraged the reproduction of his works in bronze and marble editions and, consequently, his work is represented in many public and private collections. The largest collection of his works is in the Musée Rodin, Paris. Many of his original plasters are in the Musée Rodin, Meudon. Rodin died in Meudon in 1917.