Childhood and Early Life
Auguste Rodin was born as Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin to Jean-Baptiste Rodin and Marie Cheffer on November 12, 1840 in Paris, France. He had an elder sister, Maria.
The family was with a modest income Rodin was a child of a poor family. Rodin could not afford to go to school. Therefore Rodin was mostly educated by himself. When Rodin reached the age of 15 He enrolled himself in Petite Ecole, studying drawing and painting.
The year was 1857. Rodin was attempting to join the famous Ecole des Beaux-Arts but failed. The second time he tried, he was denied each time. Disappointed, he resorted to becoming a crafter and an ornamenter. At this time, Rodin indulged in producing decorative stonework and architectural ornaments.
The tragic loss of his mother in 1862 greatly affected Rodin. In a short time, he quit his career in art and was absorbed into to the Catholic order, called the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
Inspiring to continue his art by the saint Peter Julian Eymard, Rodin began his artistic career and became decorator. He studied under Antoine-Louis Barye, who immensely had a profound influence on Rodin in the detail aspect of art.
The year 1864 was the time that Rodin began working in the artist studio at Albert-Ernest Carrier Beluse. He submitted his first work to his official Salon exhibition. But, his art was rejected.
Between 1870 and the year 1870 Rodin was the principal assistant of Carrier-Belleuse and designed ornaments for the roof and doorways. In brief, he was as a soldier throughout the Franco-Prussian War before re-joining Carrier-Belleuse in Belgium and working on the decoration of Brussels public buildings.
In 1875, Rodin visited Italy. The trip had the artist stunned by the creative geniuses which were prevalent at the time. The work that were created by Michelangelo and Donatello have had a profound impact on Rodin who was able to rescue him from the academicism that dominated his professional experience. Rodin travelled through Genoa, Florence, Rome, Naples and Venice before returning to Brussels.
The trip to Italy brought out the inner artist within Rodin He was too absorbed in his artistic stonework to recognize that art is more than academics. This experience helped him develop an individual style of expression that broke the monotony.
After returning in Brussels, Rodin started working on his first piece of original art entitled “The Vanquished”. The work is now referred to as the age of bronze’ It was Rodin’s first male sculpture, whose authenticity brought Rodin plenty of attention and accusations. However, it was able to free his name from obscurity and bring Rodin in the spotlight.
It was in 1877 that Rodin was back in Paris. Three years later after, he was given the job as a part-time designer by his former master Carrier-Belleuse. While he was there, Rodin took part in numerous competitions, but was disqualified every time.
The artist’s talent led to a request from Edmund Turquet, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Fine Arts, to design a bronze door for the soon-to-be-opened Museum of Decorative Arts in 1880.
While it was true that the Museum of Decorative Arts was never finished and his work was not completed up to his demise, the museum was among the most important pieces of his life. The Gates to Hell’ the huge sculpture created by Rodin was composed of scenes of Dante’s Inferno. It offered Rodin the confidence to explore his artistic creativity.
“The Gates of Hell” consisted of 186 figures. It was the colossal basis or the framework for a lot of Rodin’s later artworks. It was from it that Rodin developed his own work in the form of sculptures including figurines, groups and figurines. The most acclaimed work that was created independently include, ‘The Thinking The Kiss The Three Shades Ugolino’ “Fugit Amaro,” “The Falling Man’, and The Prodigal Son.
When he was working on ‘The Gates Of Hell The Gates of Hell’ Rodin was given a task to run a class for the sculptor Alfred Boucher. In the course, it was during the administration of this course Rodin became acquainted with a skilled artist Camille Claudel, a friendship that would last several years. Both artists influenced each other significantly and their friendship grew into a love affair.
Other commissions Rodin worked on during his pursuit of The Gates of Hell the commission was called ‘The Burghers Of Calais’. In the Hundred Year’s War the the King Edward III besieged the town of Calais. To protect Calais, six soldiers stripped of their shoes and bareheaded, offered themselves as prisoners for the King. In a nod to this incident, Rodin created ‘The Burghers of Calais sculpture.
In bronze and weighing more than two tonsThe sculpture The Burgher of Calais’ was one of the most admired and highly acclaimed works of Rodin. Even though it was complete in 1889 it was not until in 1895 that it was open to the people in public. In 1913, an bronze sculpture from Calais was added to the monument. Calais collection was placed in the monument showing the Queen’s determination to show mercy to the men.
The year was 1889 and Rodin received a commission to design a monument to Victor Hugo. Similar to his earlier works it was a step away from traditional standards and instead focused on the concept of the art and muse.
He died in 1891. received a commission to build a monument to French writer Honore de Balzac by Societe des Gens des Lettres. The monument was however different from his earlier works in regards to the way of seeing and taste. It broke with the norms and showed Balzac partially draped in deep eyes , and expressive expressions. communicated the strength, struggle and courage. In the same way it was the reason why the Societe was not a fan of his work.
The vast collection of Rodin’s drawings and sculptures was displayed in the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris. The exhibition also emphasized his reputation for art as Rodin began receiving orders to create busts of famous people from all over the world which included United States, England, Germany and France.
He was elected president in 1903. was elected as the president elected by the International Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, succeeding James Abbott McNeill Whistler, after his death.
Through the course of his late existence, Rodin changed his interest to the themes of masculinity and feminineness. He specialized in dance studies and created a series of erotic illustrations.
Personal Life & Legacy
Rodin began to meet his eventual girlfriend, Rose Beuret, a young seamstress in 1864. They formed an immediate bond and Beuret was later his friend throughout his entire life. It was only fifty-three years of their marriage that the couple got wed on the 29th of January 1917. However, in 1866 they were blessed with Rodin’s sole son, Auguste Eugene Beuret.
The year 1883 was when Rodin became friends with Camille Claudel. The relationship grew into an intense and turbulent relationship. She became his model in many characters.
In 1889, his personal life went through a major change in 1889, as Beuret and Clauddel began to become increasingly frustrated with his unorthodox standards. Although he lived together with Claudel, Rodin refused to leave his friendship with Beuret and his mother, who was also his son. It was not until 1898 the year 1898 that Claudel and Rodin broke up. Then, Claudel underwent nervous breakdown which eventually led to her death.
While Beuret was Rodin’s love-partner but her marital bliss was only a short time. Two weeks after her marriage to Rodin she passed away on February 16, 1917.
Rodin was sick with influenza and led to his health deteriorating. He passed away on November 17 of 1917 at his home situated in Meudon, Ile-de-France, on the edge of Paris because of congestion in the lung.
In his death, he was appointed commandant by the French Legion of Honour and was awarded an honourary degree from Oxford University. University of Oxford.
Because of the shift in aesthetics, the reputation of Rodin rapidly declined over the years after his death. In 1950, it was only that his fame once more rose as he gained recognition as the foremost artist of the contemporary era. He played a significant role for many artists and sculptors in the present day.