Auguste Rodin, the tragic life of an artist

Auguste Rodin, the tragic life of an artist

Auguste Rodin was born in Paris, in 1840, as the second child of Jean-Baptiste Rodin, a policeman.

Auguste Rodin, the tragic life of an artist

Auguste Rodin, the tragic life of an artist

Shy and not a good student, at the age of 14 he entered in the École Impériale Spéciale de Dessin et de Mathématiques with no good results, falling also his exam for the Academy of Fine Arts. But he became a member of L’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs where he knew the famous sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux and he will work with him during the next 6 years.

Auguste Rodin had a child with Rose, injured in an accident and he didn’t develop normally.

At the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War, Auguste Rodin was enrolled in a pioneer unit in the national guards, but being shortsighted, he is declared as unfit for military duty. Then he travels to Brussels, together with Carrier-Belleuse, to perform decorative work at the Palais de la Bourse.

It was not a good relationship, and Carrier-Belleuse dismissed him.

Rose followed Rodin to Brussels and there, he was good paid for several works in bronze: ‘Suzon’ and ‘Dosia’-

To make himself a name as an artist, he starts working on an uncommission standing figure, ‘The Age of Bronze’ after studies of a Belgian soldier named Auguste Neyt but in the first exhibitions, it is suggested he had used plaster casts from life, the first ‘Affaire Rodin’. The sculpture receives a positive response from other artists, though.

With Rose, Rodin returns to Paris for good. They live in a cheap apartment in the Rue Fossé St. Jaques. Later they will move to Nr. 268 in the same street.

Over the next three years, Auguste Rodin had to work for Carrier-Belleuse again, as an anonymous modeler for a minimal pay.

Studies of ‘St. John the Baptist Preaching’ were in monumental size to avoid the accusation of ‘The Age of Bronze’.

He works part-time as a modeler in the Manufacture de Sèvres and he obtained a place in the Museum.

In 1880,Turquet, state undersecretary for Fine Arts saw him working in his atelier and declared Rodin was a great sculptor and the accusations in Belgium were false. Now the way was free for Auguste Rodin’s career as an artist sculptor.

Supported by Turquet, Rodin receives a further state commission to design a decorative portal of the proposed Musée des Arts Décoratifs based on the theme of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’: ‘The Gates of Hell’ shows a great number of figures. The most important is the ‘Thinker’, representing the poet Dante. Anyway, during his lifetime the plaster models never will be cast in bronze.

Then, orders started and when his life seemed to be easy, he fell in love with his pupil Camille Claudel, here it began a difficult relationship for 15 years. However, during this period, Rodin created a series of love couples, torn apart between despair and desire, reflecting his “impossible” relationship with Camille: ‘Fugitive Love’ (1884), ‘Avarice and Lust’ (1885), ‘Faun and Nymph’ (1886), ‘Paolo & Francesca’ (1887), ‘Death of Adonis’ (1888) and ‘Eternal Idol’ (1889).

Auguste Rodin, the tragic life of an artist

Auguste Rodin, the tragic life of an artist

The single figures express the same mixture of pain and passion: ‘Fall of Icarus’ (1885), ‘Danae’ (1885), ‘Prodigal Son’ (1886), or ‘Centaurs’.

In 1884, the commissioned of ‘The Burghers of Calais’ will be other problem (, with financial and artistic discussion. In the end, in 1887, Rodin received the Cross of the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.

Auguste Rodin was a member of the Jury for the Exposition Universelle and also the state commissioned him for a monument to Claude Lorrain and for another to Victor Hugo.

From then on, his work will be recognized but other kind of problems will start: Camille will finish in a mental hospital after destroying great part of his plaster, Rodin will suffer two hemiplegia attacks, and in the Worl War he will suffer cold and starvation.

Auguste Rodin died in 1917. Together with his wife Rose, Rodin is buried in the garden of the Villa des Brillants in Meudon, on 24 November. A monumental cast of his ‘Thinker’ is placed close to their tomb.

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I am a teacher of Literature and an author of short stories. I like to travel and to speak, to meet new people and to take photos. I am preparing an exhibition of my last travel photos, titled ‘Nights in Africa’. There are 45 photos of 5 countries in the Gulf of Guinea. Years ago, I had a literary magazine ‘The Sound of Wind’ and now, I am happy to collaborate with Yareah magazine.

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