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Auguste Rodin Biography

One of France’s most recognized artists of the 19th and 20th Centuries, Auguste Rodin earned his reputation as a sculptor and illustrator through a lifetime of achievements and artistic virtue. In his early years as a professional artist, Rodin’s work was so realistic that he was accused of creating plaster moulds around his models, an accusation that would have sullied his reputation and ended his career as a sculptor. However, the baseless allegation could not have been further from the truth as Rodin is known to have allowed his models to wander about the room and dance while he sculpted, preferring not to merely copy his objects but to interpret them through their movements, refining their intricacies afterwards.

In 1903, after a variety of either unfinished or disappointing public works were unveiled, including the infamous Gates of Hell, a frustrated Rodin decided that he would no longer accept publicly commissioned work, instead opting to allow his understudies to enlarge his previously acclaimed sculptures.

In the later stages of his creative life, Rodin continued his fascination with spontaneous movement and dance, concentrating his efforts on a series of erotic drawings. These pieces were done in an unusual manner, never lifting his pencil from the page and never taking his eyes off his models. The method produced a variety of loose, often nonfigurative sketch works that seem contradictory to his earlier artistic vision, where Rodin is known as the last sculptor before the abstract movement.

After his death in 1917, The French secured his legacy by opening the Musee Rodin in his Paris home. Rodin left not only the majority of his collection to the French government, but their rights of reproduction as well. The Museum serves not only as a place to see his works, but as the moral authority of the artist’s name and legacy, going so far as to legally control replication rights of Rodin’s artwork into the distant future.