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The Origin of Rodin's The Thinker

Apr 2, 2008
The Thinker, a marble and bronze sculpture created by Auguste Rodin, is a widely recognizable work of art. The subject is a man in a seated position, leaning forward so that his elbows rest on his knee and his hand tucked under his chin for a look of contemplation. He is thought to be thinking about his internal struggles- a fact that makes him a symbol of philosophy. The image, and name, of this work of art have so entered the public consciousness that even those who have no knowledge of the artistic world are familiar with his image. There have been numerous references to the statue in every form of media that exists. That would be an impressive enough feat for any statue but especially so for a work that was originally supposed to be a part of a doorway.

The sculpture was actually originally titled The Poet. The Muse des Arts Decoratifs in Paris commissioned a portal to serve as their door and Rodin chose to create a theme around Dante's The Divine Comedy. Rodin called his portal "The Gates of Hell" and created statues to represent characters from the poem. The Thinker was meant to show Dante outside the Gates of Hell, contemplating his own poem. The figure was left nude to create a heroic imagery made popular by Michelangelo. Nudity was also thought to represent intellect- though no one would suggest walking into a modern lecture hall nude to prove that point.

The Thinker did make its way into the Gates of Hell but at a smaller size than the one most people are familiar with. He is located over the door panels in the portal, as if looking down on what is happening below him The dimensions of the "Gates" is nearly seventeen feet high by over thirteen feet wide and over three feet deep. It contains one hundred eighty figures in all- including The Thinker and Rodin's other well known work, The Kiss. Many of the other figures were also enlarged and turned into works of their own. Rodin worked on the portal off and on for thirty seven years until he died in 1917.

The first demo version of the statue was made in plaster in 1880. The first large sized bronze cast was completed in 1902 but not shown until two years later. In the later stages of his life, Rodin donated all of his works to the government of his country. The city of Paris placed The Thinker in front of the Pantheon until it was moved to the Hotel Biron (a Rodin Museum) in 1922. Today, over twenty casts of the statue sit at museums and universities around the world.

The Thinker has entered the public consciousness as a symbol of intellect and academia. In the United States, casts of the statue sit on the campuses of Columbia University (outside their philosophy hall) and Stanford University. Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and Canisius College in Indonesia also have casts of the pondering philosopher.
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Victor Epand is an expert consultant for magic, art, and Tantra. You can find the best marketplace for magic, art, and Tantra at these 3 sites for magic, art, Rodin, and Tantra.
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