The Three Shades Auguste Rodin Buy Art Prints Now
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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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The Three Shades is a sculpture created by Auguste Rodin. He was inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy where the souls of the damned, called shades stand at the entrance of Hell as they point at an inscription that states "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

Rodin Studied Dante intensively and decided to create three individual figures that were cast in bronze. The figures were then put together and appear to turn around one point. The statue was then placed at the top of The Gates of Hell, where they seem to gaze at spectators. Originally, they were just molds that Rodin had created. Their heads hang lower than a normal human would be able to, which leads to the three necks and heads forming an almost horizontal plane. It has been speculated that they borrow heavily from the work of Michelangelo.

It is especially so in regards to his tormented and twisted pose as he reaches out to God. By using this impossible anatomical distortion, Rodin was able to achieve an expressive force that was matched by no one else of his era. The figures are part of the Gates of Hell, work whose scope had been attempted before. Many works when creating the whole piece inspired him. This includes the Gates of Paradise at the Baptistery of St. John by Lorenzo. When discussing his creation in an article published by Le Min, Rodin Said that he studied Dante for a whole year trying to draw the eight circles of the inferno he depicts.

At the end of it, he realized that while his drawing was an accurate depiction of the vision of Dante, it was too far from reality. Thus, he began to work from nature again using his own unique molds. Instead of using Dante's world, he decided to depict the hell that is found in each man’s mind. The entire project was one of his most important in his life. In fact, it occupied the rest of his life. The Gates were eventually cast in their incomplete form in the 1920s from the molds he had created.