Auguste Rodin

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 cole, “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 cole encouraged him to “try for the Grande cole des Beaux-Arts” (Hale 39). He applied, but was not accepted.

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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 themselvesheads, 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 cole, 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 us …