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Auguste Rodin

The Thinker

Artist

Auguste Rodin
Paris 1840 – Meudon, France, 1917

Title

The Thinker

Date

1881-1882 (cast between 1902 and 1909)

Materials

Bronze

Dimensions

71 x 43 x 56 cm

Founder

Cast Alexis Rudier, Paris

Credits

Purchase, John W. Tempest Fund, inv. 1909.465

Collection

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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