“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. This project became Rodin’s life work as he continued to work on and off on it for 37 years, until his death in 1917.
Many of the characters from the “The Gates of Hell” were modeled and cast separately as stand-alone art sculptures. This is one of the reasons Rodin took so long with this masterpiece. 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. Examples include:
- “The Thinker” is located above the door panels.
- “The Kiss” was initially part of the Gates. However, Rodin removed the figures that became known as The Kiss because it seemed to conflict with the other suffering figures.
- “Eternal Springtime”
- “Adam” and “Eve”
The “Gates of Hell” was never cast in bronze during Rodin’s lifetime. The sculpture 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, there are several bronze versions across the world, which 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 individual 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
- Museum: Rodin Museum, Philadelphia
- Name: François-Auguste-René Rodin
- Born: 1840 – Paris, France
- Died: 1917 (aged 77) – Meudon, France
- Nationality: French
- Notable work
- 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)
- Why did Rodin struggle to finish this masterpiece?
- What was Rodin rediscovering with this masterpiece?
- Is this one of Rodin’s least-known works?
- How do you see Hell?
“Art is contemplation. It is a pleasure of the mind which searches into nature and which there divines the spirit of which nature herself is animated.”
– Auguste Rodin
Photo Credit: GM