Auguste Rodin Essay

This essay has a total of 2192 words and 11 pages.

Auguste Rodin



Like some artists, Rodin was not an overnight success. Even though he was rejected
numerous times from art schools because of his art style, he prevailed in the end. Rodin,
like many artists, got their inspiration from other great and famous artists. In Rodin's
case, his inspiration came from Michelangelo. In Rodin's more famous works, one can see
the similarities between the two artists' artwork.

Rodin's parents were not wealthy, therefore, he was not able to attend an art school of
his choice. His father, however, did send him to Petite École, "a training ground for
commercial draftsman and practiciens--cutters and finishers of work in stone" (Hale 38).
At the

age of seventeen, Rodin won his first prize for a clay model and he came in second place
for one of his drawings. His teachers at Petite École encouraged him to "try for the
Grande École des Beaux-Arts" (Hale 39). He applied, but was not accepted. Not giving up
hope, Rodin applied

two more times, but was rejected. Determined to make a living, he worked for a large
commercial designer. It was there, that he created numerous objects with his hands;
anything from masks of gods to cupids. This is where he began to see that he had a future
in what he loved the most, art.

Even though Rodin was an artist, his career did not take off so soon. When he was 22, his
sister Maria died. He anguished so much over her death that he decided to leave his art.
He quit everything and decided to enter the Order of the Fathers of the Very Holy
Sacrament. While living in the monastery, Rodin confided in Father Eymard, and he was the
one that told Rodin to continue sculpting and not to give up. Rodin eventually realized
that religion was not his calling and once he had enough money saved up, he moved into his
first studio. From that point on, he was fully committed to his artwork. Rodin said that
it was so cold in his studio, (he could not afford to have heat) that he would wake up and
see parts of his sculptures on the floor.

"Since I didn't have the money to have them cast, each day I lost precious time covering
my clay with wet cloths. Despite that, at every turn I had accidents from
the effects of the

cold and heat. Entire sections detached themselves–heads, arms, knees, chunks of torso
fell off; I found them in pieces on the tiles that covered the floor... You could not believe
what I lost in that way" (Hale 42).
In 1864, Rodin created a masterpiece, something that would change his life forever. He
created The Man with the Broken Nose, and with the new creation he said, "It determined
all my future work" (Hale 43). The "new" sculpture was not found to be worth anything
after Rodin tried to enter it in the Salon. So, he took it back home and placed it in a
corner for numerous years. One day, one of Rodin's students saw the lonely bust and asked
if he could borrow it to make copy. Rodin did not refuse and when the student, Jules
Desbois took it to his classmates at the Grande École, they were astounded. All of
Desbois's classmates stood around with amazement, all asking who created such an antique
(meaning that is was old, in a sense of not being used or displayed) masterpiece.
Desbois said, "‘The man who made it, whose name is Rodin, failed three times to enter the
school, and the work you take to be antique was refused by the Salon'" (Hale 45).

In 1866, Rose, his girlfriend, gave birth to a baby boy. He soon had a job with one of
the best employers around, Carrier-Belleuse. There, he was a draftsman, molder, finisher
and a caster. He eventually left because he had all the money that he claimed he needed.
In 1870, he was called to serve in the National Guard, but was released because of his
poor vision. By this time, there was no money and Rodin tried to call previous clients
that could possibly want some decorating done. All ties were broken after he left the
reputable company Carrier-Belleuse.

After months without having any work, Rose left him and Rodin decided to join a
partnership with another ex-employee of Carrier-Belleuse. Together, the two men made
sculptures and reliefs (sculptural technique where-by figures are carved out of a block of
stone, part of which is left to form a background. Depending on the degree to which the
figures project, the relief is described as either high or low, Cunningham 494) for a
number of building in Brussels. Auguste made a decent living from his commission and he
was soon able to do what he always wanted to do; travel to Italy.

In 1875, Rodin was able to afford to move to Italy, where he studied Michelangelo almost
immediately. At this point, Italy was probably the best thing that could have happened to
Rodin. "From the moment I arrived, I began to study Michelangelo...and I believe this
great magician will reveal some of his secrets to me..." (Hale 50).

"Having found his affinity for Michelangelo, Rodin now tackled the problem of how to
draw on his example, not just copy from it. He began work on a full-scale
figure that,

while showing Michelangelo's influence, was quite unlike anything Rodin had actually seen
in Italy. The piece, a male nude destined to become famous as The Age of Bronze, was
freestanding, both literally and figuratively, and it signaled the end of Rodin's 20-year
apprenticeship in art" (Hale 50).
When Rodin sculpted The Age of Bronze, he began a
"Michelangelesque alternative. Rodin explained that the master arranged the body in the
shape of a console, head bent, thorax incurved and knees at the lower bulge: this shape
results in very deep shadows in the hollow of the chest and under the leg...we notice that
this sculpture expresses the painful withdrawal of the being into himself, restless energy, the
will to act without hope of success, and finally the martyrdom of the creature who is
tormented by his unrealisable aspirations" (Lampert 14).
In the later part of this year,
"aware that the anniversary of Michelangelo's birth was being celebrated by special
exhibitions, Rodin aged thirty-five, had set out on foot. His avowed intention was to
discover the secret of movement in Michelangelo. What he brought back was not a full
portfolio of sketches with useful ‘secrets' or even motifs of the Renaissance masters, but a
highly personal, intoxicating memory of what it was like to experience great art"
(Lampert 12-13).

Early on in the year of 1877, Rodin was accused of being an imposter. The Salon claimed
that he had taken a statue and just molded right over it with new material. When Rodin
found out what he was being accused of, he rushed to the press and had pictures taken to
prove that he was not an imposter, and to prove that the sculpture was not exactly like
the human body. Finally, the Salon concluded that it was not the same thing and Rodin
said, "I have learned how to use it [bronze casting]."

Rodin returned to Paris in late1877, when a death occurred in the family. Rodin had lost
his mother, and now his father had gone blind and was beginning to turn senile. If that
were not enough, his son, from his common-law wife Rose (who had returned), was almost
completely retarded. Some say that it is possible that he suffered a head injury when he
fell from a two-story window as a young baby. Even though his son was dying, Rodin
attempted to give his son drawing lessons, but his son appeared to ignore him.
Continues for 6 more pages >>




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