Art Quiz: The Answer is Auguste Rodin

Admittedly, I didn’t have much of an “arts education” while I was growing up, but one famous artwork I did know about was “The Thinker” by August Rodin. I always felt a bit of pride in knowing the name of this statue as well as the name of the sculptor who created it.

Today, I’m learning that there was a lot about “The Thinker” that I didn’t know. I visited the Musee Rodin online and read these interesting facts about the statue:

When conceived in 1880 in its original size (approx. 70 cm) as the crowning element of The Gates of Hell, seated on the tympanum, The Thinker was entitled The Poet. He represented Dante, author of the Divine Comedy which had inspired The Gates, leaning forward to observe the circles of Hell, while meditating on his work. The Thinker was therefore initially both a being with a tortured body, almost a damned soul, and a free-thinking man, determined to transcend his suffering through poetry.

I had no idea that “The Thinker” actually represented Dante! Were you aware of that? Nor did I know that the work was originally called “The Poet”. Interesting little tidbits of information, indeed.

The Kiss 1901-4 Auguste Rodin

And what of “The Kiss”, another of Rodin’s famous works? This, too, was inspired by Dante.

Here is a description provided by the Tate Museum:

The Tate’s The Kiss is one of three full-scale versions made in Rodin’s lifetime. Its blend of eroticism and idealism makes it one of the great images of sexual love. However, Rodin considered it overly traditional, calling The Kiss ‘a large sculpted knick-knack following the usual formula.’

The couple are the adulterous lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, who were slain by Francesca’s outraged husband. They appear in Dante’s Inferno, which describes how their passion grew as they read the story of Lancelot and Guinevere together. The book can just be seen in Paolo’s hand.

This statue has definitely had bits of scandal and controversy surrounding it, including a rumor that the female was modeled after Rodin’s mistress. That wasn’t true,  however, since the statue was completed before Rodin met Camille Claudel.

You can see these and other works by Rodin here: 5 Auguste Rodin Sculptures You Should Be Familiar With. 

I was only familiar with “The Thinker” and “The Kiss”, so I have definitely learned a lot today. I hope you’ve learned a few interesting things, too, and that you’ve enjoyed today’s “Art Quiz” feature.




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