Auguste Rodin

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Rodin, Auguste (12 November 1840 - 17 November 1917)

François-Auguste-René Rodin was born in Paris to a working class family. At age 14 he entered the Petite École. After being rejected three times by the École des Beaux Arts, he began carving decorative stonework for income.

In 1862, grief-stricken at the death of his sister Marie, Rodin entered a sacred order but soon realized religion was not for him. As a struggling artist, he met Rose Beuret, a seamstress who became his life companion and model - she had been his loyal companion during his years of poverty in Belgium and was birth-mother of his son, Auguste-Eugène Beuret, born January 18, 1866.

In 1875, Rodin traveled to Italy and was influenced by Michelangelo, to whom he was compared as his fame grew. Rodin created The Age of Bronze, which was exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1877. It was so realistic critics accused him of casting the sculpture from a live model. The sculpture and the controversy around it catapulted him to renown.

His most famous sculptures include The Thinker and The Kiss, as well as his sculpture of Balzac. A huge bronze door for the Musée des Arts décoratifs was never finished, but he said it was inspired by Dante Alighieri's Inferno and was to have been called Gate of Hell.

At age 43, Rodin met 18-year-old Camille Claudel, an artist, and entered into a turbulent and doomed relationship with her. She got the chance to be tutored by the great sculptor, and she was model for many of the tragic love couples he depicted, including Danaide. Although the two lived in an atelier for years, Rodin maintained relationships with Rose Beuret, never fulfilling his agreement with Claudel to marry her and to stop seeing other women.

Two weeks before she died, Rose Beuret and Rodin had an official marriage on 29 January 1917.

He became a Commander of the Legion of Honor and president of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Engraver. The Biron Hotel in Paris, which he had saved and worked in, has become the Musée Rodin, where his sculpture is on display as he left it. A biographer, C. Mauclair, said that, as his work suggests, Rodin's favorite authors were Rousseau and Baudelaire.

According to Corliss Lamont, Rodin “created some of the most stirring of modern statuary, giving impassioned, if somewhat theatrical, expression to the radiant actualities of life on earth.” Similar and even more glowing evaluations of Rodin's life work came from all parts of the world.

Rodin's biographer, Mauclair, in Auguste Rodin, wrote,

  • [Rodin was] independent of any religious doctrine. . . .

The funeral of this rationalist was secular.

Rodin Funeral.jpg

- A cast of The Thinker was placed next to his tomb in Meudon, Île-de-France.