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Paris - Musée Rodin: The Thinker | by wallyg
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Paris - Musée Rodin: The Thinker

Le Penseur (The Thinker) is Auguste Rodin's most famous work. Originally named The Poet, it was modelled in 1880-1882, as part of a commission by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, to create a monumental portal to act as the door of the museum. The Gates of Hell was based on Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) of Dante Alighieri, with each statue representing one of the main characters. The Thinker was originally meant to depict Dante in front of the Gates of Hell, pondering his poem. In the final sculpture, a miniature sits atop the tympanon, pondering the hellish fate of those beneath him. The Thinker was exhibited in its original size (71.5cm) in Copenhagen in 1888.

 

Rodin enlarged the figure in a monumental bronze cast (1.84m high) in 1902, which he exhibited at the Spring Salon of 1904. The Thinker became property of the City of Paris, thanks to a subscription organized by Gabriel Mouret, the editor of Les Arts de la vie and on April 21 1906 was the first work by Rodin to be erected in public, when it was installed in front of the Panthéon. Here, over a period of intense political and social upheaval, it was seen as a symbol of working class heroes and adopted as a Socalist icon. Under the auspice that it hindered public ceremonies, it was moved to the recently opened Musée Rodin in 1922.

 

Over time, The Thinker was detached from his personal connection to Dante and came to represent, in the collective popular conscience, the power of thought and intellectual activity. This connotation is not all that removed from Rodin's broader intent. The Thinker is depicted in the nude as a heroic figure in the tradition of Michelangelo. Depicted in sober meditation, lost in contemplation and battling with an internal struggle, Rodin described him as "not a dreamer; he is a creator." Effort is expressed through the contraction of each and every muscle. Thus the work of the mind becomes palpable.

 

Over 20 casts of the Thinker, of various scales, litter the globe--Columbia University in New York, the RAD Data Communications lobby in Tel Aviv, The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, the Kyoto National Museum in Japan, the Parliament Building in Buenos Aires, Canisius College in Jakarta, Stanford University, and the Laeken Cemetery in Brussels, to name a few.

 

The Musée Rodin, displaying the works of the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, was opened in 1919 in the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds. Rodin used the Hôtel Biron as his residence from 1908, and subsequently donated his entire collection of sculptures (along with paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir that he had acquired) to the French State on the condition that they turn the building into a museum dedicated to his works. The Musée Rodin contains most of Rodin's significant creations, including href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/1386150279/">The Kiss.

 

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Taken on September 7, 2007