|The Thinker at the Musée Rodin in Paris|
The Thinker, Auguste Rodin’s most famous work is undoubtedly the most recognized sculpture the world over. Full size bronze casts of the original sculpture displayed in front of the Musée Rodin in Paris, France are found in more than 30 locations around the world, including Asia, Europe and the United States. The one that is at the University of Louisville in Kentucky is special since this is the first bronze cast made from the original. Various plaster casts and study-size casts of The Thinker are seen in global locations as well.
The massive sculpture stands, or should we say sits at a height of six feet and six inches. With the intentionally massive arms and shoulders given to the sculpture piece, when fully erect, The Thinker would be a colossal figure that would tower over men.
The story behind its creation
The sculpture was originally part of a commissioned work by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris in 1880. The plan was to create the museum’s door that would depict The Gates of Hell from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Its original piece only measured 71.5 centimeters or 28.1 inches and named The Poet. The now-famous sculpture sat on the tympanum of the portal, contemplating the Inferno with 180 individual figures below. The sculpture of The Thinker was envisioned to represent poetry and intellect as well as Dante himself.
The Thinker was first cast in 1904, although Rodin worked on the whole Gates of Hell portal for 37 years.
The Thinker’s interpretation
The sculpture is often used to represent philosophy. Many have interpreted it as a person, not exactly Dante, who is contemplating deeply. Artistically, it has been analyzed as a person with an athletic body that is twisted and curled in tension. For artists, it represents an internal struggle with something that is intellectually tough. The open left hand is meant to grasp whatever reality his vision brings and he is ready to act on it.
Others think that it is Dante, looking down the characters from his epic poem, while others think that it is actually Rodin, as he deeply mulls over the composition of his masterpiece. For others, they think along the lines of the creation of men and that the solitary figure deep in thought is actually Adam, reflecting on what his sin brought to mankind.
While the interpretations vary depending on who is making it, The Thinker, from its various evolutions, is no longer Dante, Adam or Rodin himself. It has become the symbol of creators and poets anywhere in the world.
It is a pity that the museum where the Gates of Hell was to be used was never built. Nevertheless, the original masterpiece gave the world several individual sculptures that also became famous, including The Kiss, Ugolino and his Children, The Three Shades, Fleeting Love, Paolo and Francesca, Meditation, The Old Courtesan, Adam and Eve, Eternal Springtime and I am Beautiful. Six museums display the Gates of Hell. You could find the original plaster cast at the Musée d’Orsay, while three bronze casts from the original are in Musée Rodin, Rodin Museum in Philadelphia and the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno, Tokyo. There is also one in Kuntshaus Zürich, Stanford University and at the Rodin Gallery in Seoul.
By: Bernadine B. Racoma
Editor?Day Translations, Inc.
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- The Thinker at the Musée Rodin in Paris