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“The Gates of Hell” by Auguste Rodin

"The Gates of Hell" by Auguste Rodin

“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; 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.

Many of the characters were modelled 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 of  include:

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 there are several bronze versions across the world, which reflect Rodin’s vision.

Auguste Rodin

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 criticised during his lifetime. Rodin’s most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory, he modelled the human body with realism and with individual character and physicality. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist and remains one of the few sculptors widely known outside the arts community.

Exploring Rodin

Reflections

  • 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?

The Gates of Hell:

  • Title:                  The Gates of Hell
  • Year:                  Commissioned 1880,  work on and off  until his death in 1917
  • Place of Origin:  France
  • Material:            Bronze
  • Museum:           Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

Auguste Rodin:

  • Name:            François-Auguste-René Rodin
  • Born:              1840 – Paris, France
  • Died:              1917 (aged 77) – Meudon, France
  • Nationality:     French
  • Notable works:

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“I invent nothing, I rediscover.”
– Auguste Rodin

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Photo Credit: GM