The Thinker Sculpture Analysis Essay


Amarok 2

Auguste Rodin was born on November 12, 1840 and died on November 17, 1917. Rodinwas one of the best French sculptors of the nineteenth century. His inspiration was fromMichelangelo’s mastery of the human form, anatomy and with his own views of the humannature; he was able to make works of art that helped revive the art of bronze sculpting. Rodinwas famous for sculptures such as the

Saint John the Baptist preaching 




The burghers of Calais


The Gates of Hell 

, and especially

The Thinker 

. He was known to be a sculptor thatapplied realism, impressionism, and romanticism into his sculptures. On November 19, 2009, Iwent to the Norton Simon Museum and saw the replica of Rodin’s sculpture, The Thinker, whichwas made in 1902. This research paper will explore the origin and meanings behind the famoussculpture, The Thinker.The Thinker was considered to be one of Rodin’s most famous works. It was exhibited in1888. When one looked at the subject of the sculpture, I saw man made out of bronze in a seated position, leaning forward so that his elbow rested on his knee and his hand tucked under his chinfor a look of contemplation. That is merely the basic understanding of this sculpture. After researching, Rodin made the meaning of the sculpture significant. As Rodin said, “What makesmy Thinker think is not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils andcompressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back and legs, with his clenched fists andgripping toes” (Cambell, 194). Rodin was communicating to his viewers that the thought processof his works of art would be so intense that it was like it took all of the figure’s strength tosustain the thoughts of the creative process. The sculpture exists as a symbol for art, educationand an image of mental activity and philosophy.The sculptural works of Rodin were greatly inspired by his days as a youth. In fact, onecould say that it started form his mother’s kitchen.

The Thinker

Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon)
Cast by Alexis Rudier (French)
modeled ca. 1880, cast ca. 1910
Overall (wt. confirmed): 27 5/8 in., 185 lb. (70.2 cm, 83.9 kg)
Credit Line:
Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910
Accession Number:

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 800

The Thinker was made to sit over the lintel of Rodin’s monumental bronze doorway, The Gates of Hell, contemplating the fate of the damned. Independent bronzes of The Thinker became popular, especially among American patrons. Thomas Fortune Ryan, principal founder of the Rodin collection at The Met, commissioned this cast from the sculptor’s studio. In a real sense, The Thinker is Rodin. Brutishly muscled yet engrossed in thought, coiled in tension yet loose in repose, the sculpture, according to one early twentieth-century critic, embodies both "dream and action."

Young Girl Kneeling

Artist: Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon) Date: 1840–1917Medium: Graphite, stumped on cream paperAccession: 10.66.3On view in:Not on view

Witch's Sabbath (Sabbat)

Artist: Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon) Date: ca. 1890Medium: Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paperAccession: 65.261.1On view in:Not on view

Reclining nude female figure

Artist: Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon) Date: n.d.Medium: GraphiteAccession: 13.164.3On view in:Not on view

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