Interpretive Resource

Artist Biography: Auguste Rodin

A concise biography about Rodin's life and work.

National Gallery of Art. Micro Gallery—National Gallery of Art. Online Content. Washington, D.C., 2004.

Auguste Rodin
French, 1840-1917
Auguste Rodin redefined sculpture by blurring the distinctions between abstraction and naturalism. For expressive effect, the artist often stripped his figure of inessential details. He also introduced the partial figure. Rodin showed his first major work, The Age of Bronze, in Paris in 1877. The figure was so naturalistic that critics accused the artist of casting it from the living model. Nonetheless, Rodin won several public commissions during the 1880s and 1890s, including The Burghers of Calais (1885-1889) and a monument to the writer Honoré de Balzac.

As Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet had done earlier, Rodin erected his own pavilion near the grounds of the Paris world's fair of 1900. There he exhibited more than 150 works of sculpture, earning almost unqualified critical success. Shortly before his death the artist donated every work he owned to the state with the understanding that his art would be available to the public. The result is the Musée Rodin in Paris, which is authorized to cast the artist's work in bronze, using his plaster models, in editions not exceeding twelve.



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