“The Gates of Hell” by Auguste Rodin
The Gates of Hell is a sculptural group created by Auguste Rodin that depicts a scene from “The Inferno” from Dante Alighieri’s book the Divine Comedy. The sculpture was commissioned in 1880, and it became Rodin’s life work as he continued to work on and off on this project for 37 years, until his death in 1917.
One of the reasons Rodin took so long with this masterpiece, is that many of the original small-scale sculptures used on the Gate were enlarged and reworked and became stand-alone works of art of their own.
Rodin’s Sculptures originated from the “The Gates of Hell.”
- “The Thinker” is located above the door panels.
- “The Kiss” was initially in The Gate, Rodin removed the figures that became known as The Kiss because it seemed to conflict with the other suffering figures.
- “Ugolino and His Children,” who according to the story, ate the corpses of his children after they died of starvation.
- “The Three Shades,” which initially pointed to the phrase “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
- “Fleeting Love,” is located on the right door panel, it is one of several figures of lovers that represent Paolo and Francesca da Rimini.
- “Paolo and Francesca” is shown on the left door panel. Paolo tries to reach Francesca, who seems to slip away.
- “Meditation,” appears on the rightmost part of the tympanum.
- “The Old Courtesan,” a naked female body.
- “Fallen Caryatid Carrying her Stone,” is based on the figure at the top of the left pilaster.
- “I Am Beautiful,” is among the second set of figures on the extreme right portion of the door.
- “Eternal Springtime”
- “Adam” and “Eve”
The Thinker, which later became a separate stand-alone sculpture, was initially conceived for the Gates of Hell
The “Gates of Hell” was never cast in bronze in Rodin’s lifetime and was only executed in a full-size plaster model which was kept at the artist’s studio in Meudon outside of Paris. The first bronze cast of the Gates was commissioned in 1925. Fortunately, today several bronze versions across the world reflect Rodin’s vision.
Auguste Rodin is generally considered the father of modern sculpture; he possessed a unique ability to model a complex and deeply pocketed surface in clay. Many of his most notable sculptures were criticized during his lifetime. Rodin’s most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory, he modeled the human body with realism and with personal character and physicality. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist and remained one of the few sculptors widely known outside the arts community.
The Gates of Hell
- Title: The Gates of Hell
- Artist: Auguste Rodin
- Year: Commissioned 1880, work on and off until his death in 1917
- Place of Origin: France
- Material: Bronze
- Dimensions: Height: 680 cm; Width: 400 cm; Depth: 85 cm
- Museum: Kunsthaus Zürich
- Name: François-Auguste-René Rodin
- Born: 1840 – Paris, France
- Died: 1917 (aged 77) – Meudon, France
- Nationality: French
- Notable works:
- Eternal Springtime (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Two Hands (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Cathedral (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Hand of God (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Thinker (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Gates of Hell (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- “The Gates of Hell” by Auguste Rodin (Kunsthaus Zürich)
- The Hand from the Tomb (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Sirens (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Young Mother in the Grotto (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Colossal Head of Saint John the Baptist (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Secret (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- The Thinker at the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia (Full Size)
- The Thinker at the Rodin Museum, Philadelphia (Medium Size)
- The Thinker ( Cleveland Museum of Art)
- The Thinker (The Legion of Honor)
- The Burghers of Calais (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden)
- The Burghers of Calais (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- “The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin (Washington, D.C.)
- “The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin (Tokyo)
- Balzac (Rodin Museum, Philadelphia)
- Eve (Musée Rodin, Paris)
- Adam (Art Gallery of Western Australia)
- The Kiss (Musée Rodin, Paris)
- Orpheus and Eurydice (Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET)
Explore the Kunsthaus Zürich
- “The Gates of Hell” by Auguste Rodin
- “Self-portrait with Model” by Lovis Corinth
- “Composition with Red Blue and Yellow” by Piet Mondrian
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“I invent nothing, I rediscover.”
– Auguste Rodin
Photo Credit: By Roland zh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons; By Roland zh (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons