Museums mark 100 years since death of French artist Rodin

Auguste Rodin

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, located at Musee Rodin in Paris. Public domain image by Andrew Horne

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Museums around the world are marking 100 years since the death of French artist Auguste Rodin, including the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia.

A ceremony marking the day of the artist’s death was held Friday at the museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Those taking part tossed red roses in a reflecting pool at the museum. Other events are planned throughout the year to mark the centenary.

Rodin’s famous statue The Thinker stands outside the Philadelphia museum, which opened in 1929. There are 28 full-size castings of The Thinker in existence, although not all were made in Rodin’s lifetime or under his supervision.

The collection features other well-known artworks, including a cast of The Burghers of Calais and The Monument to Honore de Balzac. A current exhibition is organized around Philadelphia’s copy of another famed work, The Kiss.

Rodin was born in 1840 into a working-class family in Paris, the second child of Marie Cheffer and Jean-Baptiste Rodin, who was a police department clerk. He was largely self-educated and began to draw at age 10.

Between ages 14 and 17, Rodin attended the Petite École, a school specializing in art and mathematics, where he studied drawing and painting. His drawing teacher, Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, believed in first developing the personality of his students so they could observe with their own eyes and draw from their recollections. Even much later in life, Rodin still appreciation to his teacher for taking such an unusual approach.

Although his applications to study at École des Beaux-Arts, possibly because his naturalist aesthetic did not reflect the judges’ Neoclassical tastes, Rodin went on to become enormously influential. A whole generation of sculptors studied in his workshop.

During his lifetime, Rodin was widely regarded as the greatest artist of his era, with many comparing him to Michelangelo. He was awarded the French Legion d’honneur, making him a Commander; and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford.


Auction Central News International contributed to this report.

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