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The Thinker

the thinker, the thinker sculptor
The Thinker French: Le Penseur is a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, usually placed on a stone pedestal The work shows a nude male figure of over life-size sitting on a rock with his chin resting on one hand as though deep in thought and is often used as an image to represent philosophy There are about 28 full size castings, in which the figure is about 186 centimetres 73 in high, though not all were made during Rodin's lifetime and under his supervision; as well as various other versions, several in plaster, studies, and posthumous castings, in a range of sizes Rodin first conceived the figure as part of another work in 1880, but the first of the familiar monumental bronze castings did not appear until 1904


  • 1 Origins
  • 2 Casts
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


The Thinker in The Gates of Hell at the Musée Rodin

Originally named The Poet French: Le Poète, The Thinker was initially a figure in a large commission, begun in 1880, for a doorway surround called The Gates of Hell Rodin based this on The Divine Comedy of Dante, and most of the many figures in the work represented the main characters in the epic poem Some critics believe The Thinker, at the centre of the composition over the doorway and at about 70 cm high larger than most other figures, was originally intended to depict Dante at the gates of Hell, pondering his great poem However, there are questionable aspects to this interpretation, including that the figure is naked, while Dante is fully clothed throughout his poem, and that the figure, as used, in no way corresponds to Dante's effete figure1 The sculpture is nude, as Rodin wanted a heroic figure in the tradition of Michelangelo, to represent intellect as well as poetry

This detail from the Gates of Hell was first named The Thinker by foundry workers, who noted its similarity to Michelangelo's statue of Lorenzo de Medici called "Il Penseroso" The Thinker2 Rodin decided to treat the figure as an independent work, at a larger size The figure was designed to be seen from below, and is normally displayed on a fairly high plinth, though the heights chosen by the various owners for these vary considerably

Rear view, Tokyo


The Thinker and a woman Main article: List of The Thinker sculptures Signature of A Rodin on a cast at Columbia University, NYC

The Thinker has been cast in multiple versions and is found around the world, but the history of the progression from models to castings is complicated and still not entirely clear About 28 monumental-sized bronze casts of the sculpture are in museums and public places In addition, there are sculptures of different study size scales and plaster versions often painted bronze in both monumental and study sizes Some newer castings have been produced posthumously and are not considered part of the original production

Rodin made the first small plaster version around 1880 The first large-scale bronze casting was finished in 1902 but not presented to the public until 1904dubious – discuss It became the property of the city of Paris thanks to a subscription organized by Rodin admirers, and was put in front of the Panthéon in 1906 In 1922, it was moved to the Hôtel Biron, which had been transformed into the Rodin Museum

The first cast sculpture can be found in front of Grawemeyer Hall on the University of Louisville Belknap Campus in Louisville, Kentucky Made in Paris, it was first displayed at the St Louis World's Fair in 1904 and was then given to the city This sculpture was the only cast created by the lost-wax casting method3citation needed


  1. ^ Elsen, Albert L, Rodin's Gates of Hell, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis Minnesota, 1960 p 96
  2. ^ Elsen, Albert L, Rodin's Gates of Hell, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis Minnesota, 1960 p 77
  3. ^ "U of L Belknap Campus Tour, page 2" University of Louisville 2000 Archived from the original on February 26, 2011 Retrieved 15 November 2010 

External linksedit

  • Rodin: The B Gerald Cantor Collection, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on The Thinker
  • The "Penseur", a poem by Philadelphia poet Florence Earle Coates
  • Link to The Thinker at the official Web site of the Musée Rodin
  • The Thinker Inspiration, Analysis and Critical Reception
  • The Thinker project, Munich Discussion of the history of the many casts of this artwork
  • The Thinker, Iris & B Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Object Number 1988106, bronze cast No
  • Auguste Rodin and The Thinker, The story behind his most iconic sculpture of all-time at biographycom

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The Thinker

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