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Auguste Rodin

The Thinker


Auguste Rodin
Paris 1840 – Meudon, France, 1917


The Thinker


1881-1882 (cast between 1902 and 1909)




71 x 43 x 56 cm


Cast Alexis Rudier, Paris


Purchase, John W. Tempest Fund, inv. 1909.465


Western Art

This sculpture depicts Dante, the Florentine poet of the Renaissance, observing characters from his Divine Comedy in Hell. Initially conceived for the tympanum of Auguste Rodin’s monumental sculptural project, The Gates of Hell, the sculpture ultimately became a separate work. Rodin produced it in a number of versions and various sizes. As the artist explained: “Before these Gates, seated on a rock, Dante, engrossed in deep contemplation, conceived the outline of his poem . . . Guided by my first inspiration, I conceived another ‘Thinker,’ a naked man, crouched on a rock, on which his feet are clenched. His fist pressed against his teeth, he ponders. Slowly, fertile thoughts are formulated in his brain. He is not a dreamer, he is a creator.” This version was purchased directly from the artist in 1909 on the occasion of its presentation at the Art Association of Montreal (now the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts).

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