Auguste Rodin

On this date in 1840, sculptor Auguste Rodin was born in Paris. At age 14 he entered the Petite Ecole. After being rejected three times by the Ecole des Beaux Arts, he began carving decorative stonework for income. In 1862, grief-stricken at the death of his sister Marie, Rodin entered a sacred order, but soon realized religion was not for him. As a struggling artist, he met Rose Beuret, a seamstress who became his life companion and model. In 1875, Rodin traveled to Italy and was influenced by Michelangelo, to whom he was compared as his fame grew. Rodin created The Age of Bronze, which was exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1877. It was so realistic critics accused him of casting the sculpture from a live model. The sculpture and the controversy around it catapulted him to renown. His most famous sculptures include The Thinker and The Kiss, as well as his sculpture of Balzac. At age 43, Rodin met young Camille Claudel, an artist, and entered into a turbulent and doomed relationship with her. He was a Commander of the Legion of Honor, and president of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Engravers. The Biron Hotel in Paris, which he had saved and worked in, has become the lovely Musee Rodin, where his sculpture is on display as he left it. The funeral of this rationalist was secular. D.1917.

“[Rodin was] independent of any religious doctrine. . . .”

—Auguste Rodin's biographer C. Mauclair, Auguste Rodin (Eng. trans., 1905, p. 26), cited by Joseph McCabe's A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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