"I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don't need."

Happy birthday Rodin!

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Auguste Rodin (November 12, 1840—November 17, 1917) was a French sculptor and ornamental designer. He did not gain acclaim until later in life, with some of his best known works being Gates of Hell, The Thinker, and The Burghers of Calais.

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Rodin was born in Paris to Marie Cheffer and Jean-Baptiste Rodin. His parents were working class, and he attended the Petite École. He began drawing at the age of ten. He applied to the Grand École, but did not gain acceptance. This was a particularly harsh blow considering it was not generally difficult to win acceptance.

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Rodin spent the better part of the next two decades doing craft work, making architectural embellishments.

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When Rodin's sister died, he felt guilty because he had introduced her to the husband who had been unfaithful. This led him to join the Catholic Order briefly, where the head of his congregation encouraged him to sculpt. (Image source)

Until his 30s, Rodin struggled to earn money. He was in a relationship with a woman named Rose Beuret, and the two had a son, he would stay – with ranging commitment – for the rest of his life. The couple had a son, Auguste-Eugène Beuret. He was invited to work in the studio of mass art producer Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. He eventually followed Carrier-Belleuse to Belgium and remained there for six years. Through his employment, he was able to save enough money to travel. He went to Italy in 1875, where he became inspired by the works of Donatello and Michelangelo.

Soon, Rodin had completed The Vanquished (later renamed The Age of Bronze).

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Returning to Paris in 1877, Rodin competed for commissions, submitting models of Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Lazare Carnot.

In 1880, he was hired by his old employer, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, as a designer at the Sèvres national porcelain factory.

His designs of vases and table ornaments earned him a spot at the prestigious Paris Salons. It was there that he met Edmund Turquet, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Fine Arts. Through him, he earned the commission to create a portal for a planned museum of decorative arts—what would become his elaborate work, Gates of Hellthough the museum would never be built.

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His sculptures, The Thinker

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and The Kiss were originally figures on the portal.

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In 1883, Rodin began a relationship with 18-year-old Camille Claudel. The two became major influences on each other artistically.

He went on to create The Burghers of Calais. Many of Rodin's works were met with criticism throughout his life because they did not follow conventions.

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His work emphasized the details of the flesh. One work to meet a significant amount of criticism was his sculpture of writer Honoré de Balzac.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Wednesday, 12 November 2014
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