Sunday, December 19, 2010

Auguste Rodin and The Gates of Hell

     One of the greatest and most prolific sculptors of the 19th century, Auguste Rodin was born November 12 1840 and died November 17 1917.His masterpiece The Gates of Hell many recognize as the greatest sculptor of all time.It was a project that Rodin was engrossed in until his death in 1917.
       The Beginning 
of this masterpiece came in 1880 when Rodin received a commission from the French government to design monumental doors for a proposed new museum. His starting point was Dante's Inferno, but the many figures he created in plaster for his Gates of Hell including models for The Thinker 1880 and The Kiss 1886 came to represent the sculptor's own vision of humanity's battle with good and evil.
    The sculpture itself  stands at 6 m high, 4 m wide and 1 m deep and contains 180 figures. The figures range from 15 cm high up to more than one metre. Several of the figures were also cast independently by Rodin.

  The following all appear in the Gates of Hell

Adam And Eve
In 1880, Rodin proposed to Turquet, the Undersecretary for fine Arts, to flank his 'Gates of Hell' by two colossal statues: Adam and Eve, the first sinners.more....                                                      
'The Kiss' is inspired by Dantes'Divine Comedy. In Canto V of the 'Inferno', Dante and Virgil meet the illicit love couple Paolo and Francesca in the Second Circle of Hell, where the carnal sinners are punished. Dante's narration is based on historical facts that must have deeply impressed him as a young man.

Fugitive love' is a version of the popular theme of lovers, carried by the wind. Rodin detached this group of lovers from the The Gates of Hell, where it replaced The Kiss around 1887 as the dominant group at the left door. Again, the love couple represents Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta, who were murdered for their illicit love affair and eternally damned.

The free-standing version of 'Meditation', which Rodin modeled in 1885, is slightly larger than the small body included as damned soul in the composition of the 'The Gates if Hell' in the right corner of the tympanum.

Ugolino and His Sons
The plaster in the Musée d'Orsay shows Ugolino still with a raised head; in the final version, included in 'The Gates of Hell',  the sculptor goes the last step: the Count is facing down like an animal, no longer able to maintain a reflective distance; as a last human gesture,  his left arm is supporting the head of his dying son, the other son still clinging to his father's back.

Gates of Hell

    Rodin was not only a sculptor of public monuments but a tireless artist who produced numerous small and intimate sculptures. These works range from highly developed pieces such as Eternal Spring, The Burghers of Calais and his first piece The Age of Bronze.

 Rodin's Final Year
      In 1917 Rodin married Rose Beuret on 29 January in Meudon. Rose died on 14 February and Rodin died on 17 November. He was buried in Meudon on 24 November, next to Rose. Their tomb is dominated by The Thinker

Auguste Rodin Quotes

      There is nothing ugly in art except that which is without character, that is to say, that which offers no outer or inner truth.

     Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
     There are unknown forces in nature; when we give ourselves wholly to her, without reserve, she lends them to us; she shows us these forms, which our watching eyes do not see, which our intelligence does not understand or suspect.

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