Auguste Rodin – The French Michelangelo

Day 194 of Colourisation Project – November 17

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Widely recognized as the pioneer of modern sculpture and the most important sculptor of the modern era, French sculptor, Auguste Rodin is best known for creating several iconic works, including his sumptuous bronze and marble, larger than life figures; The Age of Bronze, The Thinker, The Kiss and The Burghers of Calais. He was frequently compared to Michelangelo.

Auguste Rodin

Photographer: Charles Hippolyte Aubrey – Auguste Rodin 1862 – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Infact, Rodin was inspired by the work of Michelangelo, Donatello, Dante and Baudelaire all of whom, clearly had a profound effect on his artistic direction. Rodin openly would claim, “It is Michelangelo who has freed me from academic sculpture.”

Today’s before and after image shows a lesser known photo taken by French photographer, Charles Hippolyte Aubry in 1862 of Rodin as an intense looking 22 year old artist in his sculptor’s smock, long before having attained any recognition for his work.

Over more than five decades, Rodin proved himself a prolific artist, creating thousands of busts, figures, and sculptural fragments.  He also painted in oils and watercolors.

In 1883, Rodin at the age of 43, began a  affair with the talented 18-year-old Camille Claudel, a French sculptor and graphic artist. She became his model, muse and lover, (though she too developed a career in her own right). Claudel is said to be the inspiration for The Kiss. In 1892, after an unwanted abortion, Claudel ended her relationship with Rodin, although they saw each other regularly until 1898.

Though Claudel and Rodin had shared an atelier at an old castle, Rodin refused to leave his wife of 20 years. Claudel suffered a nervous breakdown seven years later and was confined for the next 30 years to an institution by her family until her death. Medical records revealed that while she did have mental outbursts, she was clear-headed while working on her art. Doctors tried to convince the family that she need not be in the institution, but still they kept her there. (A story for another time.)

Rodin was still working on The Gates of Hell, when he died on this day November 17, 1917, in Meudon, France. An elaborate state funeral was organised for Rodin, a testament to his status and the high regard in which he was held in Paris. The Thinker marks his grave in Meudon cemetery.

In 1912, the Metropolitan Museum devoted a gallery exclusively to his work. In 1916, Rodin bequeathed his collection to France in return for the establishment of a museum dedicated to his work. The Musée Rodin is now housed in Paris in the eighteenth-century Hôtel Biron, (Rodin’s studio in the later years of his life.) It holds the largest Rodin collection, with more than 6,000 sculptures and 7,000 drawings and prints.
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One Response to Auguste Rodin – The French Michelangelo

  1. Pingback: Camille Claudel – Thwarted Genius | Random Phoughts

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