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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This Auguste Rodin biography outlines the key moments in his life and career and also attempts to pinpoint the significant influences on him which helped to develop this extraordinary French sculptor.

François-Auguste-René Rodin was born on the 12th of November, 1840 and was the second child to the married couple of Marie Cheffer and Jean-Baptiste Rodin. Auguste's sister, Maria, was born two years earlier. The young student struggled in his years at school due to poor sight, which had not been diagnosed at that time. He was drawn towards art as a means to getting benefits from his near-sighted vision and quickly developed a particular passion for sketching.

His short-sightedness was what drew him close to art, and it grew into a passion. He focused on making art, and he ended up making exceptional pieces. His modest work helped him to accomplish incredible notoriety, yet he viewed its motivation as excessively trifling, and his momentous desire had been animated by what he did in Belgium 1874 on the Loos Monument.

The French artist is known for doing a few notable works, including The Burghers of Calais, The Kiss, The Age of Bronze, and The Thinker just to name a few. His work has impacted present-day art. Rodin didn't get much recognition until he was in his 40s, unlike many other artists. He developed his innovative abilities during his teenage years he later focused on decorative arts for almost two decades. Eventually, he made the iconic piece called The Vanquished which was later renamed The Age of Bronze. This piece was exhibited in 1877, and it brought a lot of controversies. He made very many pieces, but Rodin died in Meudon, France in the year 1917.

François Auguste-René Rodin had acquired basic aptitudes as a craftsman by the time he was 13, and he started taking art courses. He got approval or support from his classmates and teachers as well. Rodin wanted to join the famous École des Beaux Arts in Paris. However, he was gravely frustrated when he wasn't accepted, with his application being dismissed twice from that point. Robin didn't stop creating sculptures even though many didn't agree with his style.

Propensity for Realism

In the 1860s Robin had finished what most would depict as his first real work, Veil of the Man With the Broken Nose. The art piece was dismissed by some art companies because of the realism of the piece. They felt that it didn't match their great thoughts of beauty and included the face of a handyman.

Later on, Rodin worked under Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, who was a force to reckon with in the art industry. An excursion to Italy in the year 1875 with influence from Michelangelo's work Rodin's inward craftsman started to come through; edifying him to new sorts of conceivable outcomes; when he came back to Paris, he was very motivated to design art.

Rodin finished The Vanquished piece, also known as The Age of Bronze, in 1876 which is a figure of a naked man grasping both of his hands, with right hand on his head. A portrayal of languishing in the midst of expectation over the future, the piece was first shown in 1877, with allegations flying everywhere that the figure was a moulded directly on a model because it was so realistic.

A Cluster of Famous Sculptures

When Rodin reached his 40s, he had mastered his unmistakable masterful style with an acclaimed, and sometimes controversial works. He was shunning scholastic custom for an imperative suppleness of structure. With a huge group helping him in the last casting of models, Rodin in this manner proceeded to make a variety of renowned works, such as The Burghers of Calais, a piece that depicts a quick but detailed War moment among France and England.

The masterpiece features six human statues, delineates a war moment where six French natives from Calais were requested by ruler Edward III to relinquish their home and surrender themselves—shoeless and bareheaded. They were also asked to wear ropes on their necks and hold the castle and town keys in their hands. The King was to arrange their execution after that. The Burghers of Calais is a depiction showing when the residents left the town; Queen Philippa later requested them to be pardoned. Rodin started making the piece in 1884, subsequent to being appointed by Calais to make it. The piece wasn't revealed until over ten years after the fact, in 1895.

In 1880, Rodin started creating The Gates of Hell, a mind-boggling piece motivated by Charles Baudelaire's and Dante's Divine Comedy. The monument piece comprised of different figures, including the famous The Thinker which was intended to be a portrayal of Dante himself, The Three Shades of 1886, the man with the serpent and The Old Courtesan of 1887. In spite of the fact that Rodin wished to display the finished Gates before the decade's over, the work demonstrated to be additional tedious than initially foreseen and stayed uncompleted. However, Decades later, custodian Léonce Bénédite started the recreation of the divided work for a bronze casting. Rodin created other significant models over the resulting years.

The Death and Legacy

Months after the demise of his soulmate Rose Beuret, Robin died in 1917 month of November. Accumulating recognition for over a century, he is generally viewed as the pioneer of present-day sculpture design. Samples of Robin's work can be found all over the world; his Legacy is examined and profoundly appreciated by other craftsmen, specialists, researchers and even those with untrained eyes.

In August 1919 the François Auguste-René Rodin museum was officially open in a Paris manor that housed his studio amid his last years. Following quite a long while of remaking, in November 2015 the museum was revived. With a lot of its income provided by the clearance of bronze casts produced using unique shapes, It likewise includes uncovered pieces from Rodin's muse who also functioned as his right hand for quite a while. The relationship is said to have propelled a significant number of his pieces such as The Kiss which is very famous.


Prior to Rodin's demise, he gave the majority of his illustrations, figures, and chronicles to France to make a historical centre in the Biron hotel. However, even without a big historical centre, his models and illustrations influenced many young artists. For example, Henri Matisse was fascinated by the immediacy of his illustrations, while Cubists and also Futurists were interested in his feeling of movement and the discontinuity of his human structures. He used his imagination and background, to his stay focus but not limited.

While Rodin's notoriety declined in the years following his demise, his rebellion to scholarly benchmarks and his clear articulation of the human structure started the French sculpting method. Today, almost every huge comprehensive historical centre has models, and displays of his work. Also, there are routinely exhibitions, which keeps Rodin's works recognizable.

Portrait Busts

Starting from the 1880s, Rodin got numerous commissions from private people for portrait busts, including some famous individuals. Some of Rodin's busts include George Bernard Shaw, essayist Henri Rochefort and Charles Baudelaire. His portraits were unique, and he even captures their spirit in the image. Those who worked with him say he was very professional and dedicated to his work.

Rodin went past above and beyond with his realism in the Head of Baudelaire piece. Baudelaire's face looks forward with focus, and his eyes appear to be concentrated on something invisible. Rodin developed gradually, and his first essential work, Age of Bronze, wasn't done until he turned thirty-five, but he still became a legend. Many artists have tried imitating Rodin's work with no success. They, however, continue to try, and his work continues to inspire them.