Art e Dossier

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Art History

François Auguste René Rodin: biography

François-August Rodin was born into a petit-bourgeois family in Paris on 12 November 1840. From 1854 to 1857 he studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs, under Lecoq de Boisbaudran for drawing and Carpeaux for modeling. Rejected by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts three times he was forced to work as a house painter in order to earn money (1858-1862). In 1864 he entered the studio of Carrier-Belleuse who would have a lasting influence on Rodin, there he met Rose Beuret who became be his lifelong companion. The first piece he sent to the Salon in 1865, .The Man with the Broken Nose was rejected In 1871 Carrier-Belleuse invited him to participate in the decorative work on the Brussels Bourse. His sojourn in that city lasted until 1877 and was interrupted by a trip to Italy (1875) where was able to see Michelangelo’s works. In 1876, in homage to the Renaissance genius, he sculpted The Age of Bronze. He showed it at the Salon the following year and it was purchased by the government. After his return to Paris in 1877 he began working on St. John the Baptist that was shown at the Salon in 1880. In 1879 Carrier-Belleuse had him come to the Sèvres porcelain factory where he was artistic director. Then, in 1880 he received the commission to create a monumental door for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, entitled The Gates of Hell, which he never completed. Some of the parts, however, served as the inspiration for other works from that period including The Thinker (1880) and The Kiss (1888). In 1883 he met Camille Claudel with whom he had a difficult and intense relationship. In 1884 he received the commission for the group Les Bourgeois de Calais (The Burghers of Calais) which he completed in 1886 but was only put in place in 1895. In 1889 he was asked to make the Monument to Victor Hugo for the Pantheon, a piece that he never completed. In 1891 the Société des Gens de Lettres commissioned him to make a statue of Balzac, but because of the lively controversy that the statue triggered the society refused to honor its commitment at the last moment. A few years later he received the commission to create the Monument to Domingo Sarmiento that was unveiled in Buenos Aires in May 1900. Between the end of the XIX and the early years of the XX century, he held many shows and exhibitions in France and abroad. Rich and famous, in 1897 he moved to the villa he had purchased at Meudon, and in 1908 to the Hotel Biron that was donated to the government in 1916 and became the Musée Rodin. The artist died on 17 November 1917, he was buried with Rose, whom he married shortly before his death (February 1917), in the garden of the Villa des Brillants at Meudon.

The works