Francois-Auguste-René Rodin Life and Art Periods

"To any artist, worthy of the name, all in nature is beautiful, because his eyes, fearlessly accepting all exterior truth, read there, as in an open book, all the inner truth."

FRANCOIS-AUGUSTE-RENÉ RODIN SYNOPSIS

Auguste Rodin's story resembles the archetypal struggle of the modern artist. He was born in obscurity and, despite showing early promise, he was rejected by the official academies. He spent years laboring as an ornamental sculptor before success and scandal set him on the road to international fame. By the time of his death he was likened to Michelangelo. His reputation as the father of modern sculpture remains unchanged, and in recent years the wider renown of his many drawings has also elevated his reputation as a draughtsman. However, his many intimate drawings of his models have also altered our impression of him, suggesting the exploitative sexual appetite that lay behind the image of the eminent and respected artist.

FRANCOIS-AUGUSTE-RENÉ RODIN KEY IDEAS

Rodin stripped away many of the references to classical myth that were still attached to academic sculpture in the late nineteenth century, and placed a new stress on the dignity of simple humanity. The fame of works such as The Kiss (1884), The Thinker (1880), and The Age of Bronze (1876) has transformed them into paragons of high art, yet until Rodin's age, sculpture's importance and novelty lay in avoiding that aura. Instead of representing gods or muses, he sculpted lifelike figures in distinctly modern attitudes of love, thought, and proud physicality.
Rodin's achievement as a sculptor was to find a way to make the brute materiality of sculpture express the fleeting mobility of the modern individual. To achieve this he abandoned the polished and idealized figures of academic sculpture and produced rougher, more unfinished surfaces, which better expressed restlessness, corporeality, and movement. While this often suggests psychological agitation, it also evokes the constant movement that is characteristic of life in modern times.
Rodin's work process often encouraged him to reuse compositions in different ways. Most famously, figures that appear in his greatest work, The Gates of Hell, were often later rendered separately, at different scales. But Rodin would also represent the same figure multiple times in the same sculpture or fragment figures into individual body parts, like hands or arms. All of these processes were encouraged by his very unclassical approach to composition, and they produced strange and jarring effects.
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FRANCOIS-AUGUSTE-RENÉ RODIN BIOGRAPHY

Childhood

Rodin was born in a poor area of Paris's fifth arrondissement to Jean-Baptiste Rodin, an office clerk in the local police station, and Marie Cheffer, his second wife. Despite Jean-Baptiste's modest earnings, he and Marie attempted to provide a bourgeois upbringing by sending Rodin to a boarding school in Beauvais. He was not a successful student, perhaps in part because of his shortsightedness. In 1854, aged 13, he decided to pursue a career in the arts, attending the École Spéciale de Dessin et de Mathematiques (or "Petite École," to distinguish it from the Grande École des Beaux-Arts), which trained boys in the decorative arts.

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Early Training

After three years of studying drawing and sculpture, Rodin applied to the Grand Ecole. While he passed the drawing competition, he failed three times in the sculpture competition. Most likely, his pursuit of naturalism did not suit the school's academic style. After the third rejection, Rodin resigned himself, at the age of 19, to taking jobs in plaster workshops to create architectural ornaments. Although he disliked working for others, these workshops provided him with a meager living for the next 20 years. In his own time, he continued to make sculptures, including a portrait bust called The Man with the Broken Nose (1863-64). He considered this the best of his work and submitted it to the Paris Salon in 1864, but it was rejected.

Auguste Rodin Biography

In 1866, Rodin met Rose Beuret, who remained his lifetime companion despite his numerous affairs. The same year, they had a son, Auguste-Eugene Beuret, whom Rodin never recognized legally. Professionally, around this time, Rodin found better fortune filling commissions in the workshop of Carrier-Belleuse, a successful commercial sculptor, but the steady work and increased income was disrupted by the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Rodin served as an officer until the French surrendered in 1871, and then followed Carrier-Belleuse to Brussels.

Mature Period

In 1875, Rodin returned to Brussels after a trip to Florence to see the work of Michelangelo. He created a life-size sculpture of a young officer, which he called The Age of Bronze (1876), and this proved to be the turning point in his career. He submitted the finished work to the Salon in 1877, which accepted it, but with doubts about its authenticity (many accused him of casting directly from the model's body). Rodin's protests were not acknowledged by most critics, yet eventually the sculpture was purchased by Edmond Turquet, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Fine Arts. Turquet also commissioned Rodin to create a monumental bronze doorway for a planned museum of the decorative arts. This project went on to be perhaps Rodin's greatest work, though the planned museum was cancelled, and The Gates of Hell, as the doors came to be titled, were not even cast until after the artist's death.

The years during which Rodin worked on The Gates of Hell coincided with his relationship with Camille Claudel. A young sculptor who joined his studio as an assistant in 1884, Claudel had a tumultuous affair with Rodin that lasted until 1892, though they continued to see each other until 1898. During their time together, Rodin made several erotic sculptures of loving couples. Claudel separated from Rodin when it became clear that he would not leave Rose to marry her.

Auguste Rodin Photo

Paris held a centennial celebration of the French Revolution in 1889, called the Exposition Universelle. For the occasion, Rodin showed 36 works together with Claude Monet at the Gallery of Georges Petit. Almost all of these were figures from, or influenced by, The Gates of Hell. Rodin's style changed after this major exhibit, becoming more spontaneous and loose. His drawings of the female form were simplified and abstracted, while sculptures were often left "unfinished," a smooth face or figure emerging from rough stone.

Late Years and Death

By 1899, Rodin had a large studio with several assistants. His work, however, continued to elicit trouble and scandal. The Burghers of Calais (1889) was nearly refused for its depiction of the city's heroes as dejected victims. In 1891, Rodin was commissioned by the Society of Men of Letters to create a memorial for the poet Honore Balzac. It was summarily rejected, however, when the committee saw the work at the Salon of 1898. For political reasons, Rodin retracted the commission, deciding to keep the sculpture in his possession.

Rodin's pace slowed down after the sculpture of Balzac, but he had achieved financial success. Several exhibitions around the turn of the century brought him worldwide renown. He exhibited in Belgium and Holland in 1899, and was given his first retrospective in Paris in 1900. Subsequent shows took place in Prague, New York, and Germany. In 1908, Rodin moved to the now-famous Hotel Biron, where he rented rooms along with other famous tenants such as Isadora Duncan, Rainer Maria Rilke and Henri Matisse. The Hotel became his new studio and the home of his affair with the Marquise (and later, Duchess) Claire de Choiseul. She exercised great control over his life and the sale of his work for seven years, until she was accused of stealing a box of drawings. Because of her scheming and that of other women around Rodin, friends encouraged him to marry Rose Beuret in January 1917. Rose died two weeks after the wedding, and Rodin passed away in November of that same year.

FRANCOIS-AUGUSTE-RENÉ RODIN LEGACY

Before Rodin's death, he bequeathed all of his drawings, sculptures, and archives to the state of France to create a museum in Hotel Biron at Meudon. Yet even without a national museum, his sculptures and drawings would still have had a huge impact on younger artists. Henri Matisse was influenced by the spontaneity of his drawings, while Cubists and Futurists were fascinated by his sense of motion and the fragmentation of his human forms. While Rodin's reputation declined in the decades immediately following his death, his rebellion against academic standards, and his vivid expression of the human form, planted the seed for a new French sculpture. Today, nearly every large encyclopedic museum owns a casting of one of his sculptures, and exhibitions of his work are held regularly, making Rodin one of the few artists recognizable to the general public.

Original content written by Julia Brucker
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FRANCOIS-AUGUSTE-RENÉ RODIN QUOTES

"To any artist, worthy of the name, all in nature is beautiful, because his eyes, fearlessly accepting all exterior truth, read there, as in an open book, all the inner truth."

"It is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop, and if the artist succeeds in producing the impression of a movement which takes several moments for accomplishment, his work is certainly much less conventional than the scientific image, where time is abruptly suspended."

"Every part of the human figure is expressive. And is not an artist always isolating, since in Nature nothing is isolated."

"In front of the model, I work with the same desire to copy the truth as if I were making a portrait; I do not correct nature, I incorporate myself into her; she leads me. I can work only from a model. The sight of the human form fortifies and nourishes me."

Francois-Auguste-René Rodin

Francois-Auguste-René Rodin Influences

Interactive chart with Francois-Auguste-René Rodin's main influencers, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.

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Donatello
Donatello
Famed Renaissance sculptor Donatello was known particularly for his bas-relief sculptures, which he created primarily in Florence, Italy. His bronze David, commissioned for Palazzo Medici, is one of his most famous works.

Modern Art Information Donatello
Antoine-Louis Barye
Antoine-Louis Barye
Paris-born sculptor Antoine-Louis Barye worked in the nineteenth century Romantic period, producing numerous sculptural studies of animals such as "Tiger Devouring a Crocodile" and "Lion of the Column of July."

Modern Art Information Antoine-Louis Barye
Emile Zola
Emile Zola
Emile Zola was a nineteenth-century French novelist, playwright, essayist and political activist. He was also the self-proclaimed leader of literary French Naturalism. As one of the leading cultural figures in France, Zola was close with the likes of Manet and Cézanne, and was the favorite writer of Vincent van Gogh.

Modern Art Information Emile Zola
Octave Mirbeau
Octave Mirbeau
Mirbeau was a French journalist, art critic and novelist. Known for his anarchist views and existential novels, he also supported artists such as Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, and other Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists.

Modern Art Information Octave Mirbeau
Greek sculpture
Greek sculpture
Classical sculpture was marked by a focus on the human form. For the first time in human history, Greek art showed the human form nude, poses frozen in action. The surviving sculptures have influenced artists past and present.

Modern Art Information Greek sculpture
Renaissance
Renaissance
In the Renaissance, artists rediscovered techniques like rational space, three-point perspective, and plastic forms. Paintings frequently emphasized the human figure, allegory, classical mythology, and Christian themes.

Modern Art Information Renaissance
Impressionism
Impressionism
A movement in painting that first surfaced in France in the 1860s, it sought new ways to describe effects of light and movement, often using rich colors. The Impressionists were drawn to modern life and often painted the city, but they also captured landscapes and scenes of middle-class leisure-taking in the suburbs.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Impressionism
Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni was an Italian avant-garde filmmaker. He favored themes that focused on the alienation of man in the modern world, and used long, unedited takes in many of his films. His best known work is the 1966 film Blowup, starring David Hemmings and Vanessa Redgrave.

Modern Art Information Michelangelo Antonioni
Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni
Umberto Boccioni was an Italian painter and sculptor. Like the other Futurists, his work centered on the portrayal of movement (dynamism), speed, and technology. After moving to Milan in 1907, he became acquainted with the Futurists, including the famous poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and became one of the movement's main theorists.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Umberto Boccioni
Raymond Duchamp-Villon
Raymond Duchamp-Villon
Duchamp-Villon and three of the other five Duchamp children, including Marcel Duchamp, became famous artists. Duchamp-Villon was a self-taught French sculptor. He served as a juror in the Salon d'Automne in 1907 and helped promote the Cubist movement. He died in 1916 of typhoid fever.

Modern Art Information Raymond Duchamp-Villon
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse was a French painter and sculptor who helped forge modern art. From his early Fauvist works to his late cutouts, he emphasized expansive fields of color, the expressive potential of gesture, and the sensuality inherent in art-making.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Henri Matisse
Camille Claudel
Camille Claudel
Claudel was a French sculptor who studied at the Academie Colarossi and became Auguste Rodin's studio assistant, muse, model, and lover. She is known for her expressive sculpture, more classical in style than Rodin. Some of her sculptures, including The Mature Age, are autobiographical.

Modern Art Information Camille Claudel
Rainer Maria Rilke
Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke was an Austrian poet and art critic. Inspired by Greek mythology, but also focusing on the human characteristics of the divine, he is considered a transitional figure from traditional to modern poetry. He was friends, and for a time, secretary to Auguste Rodin in Paris.

Modern Art Information Rainer Maria Rilke
Loie Fuller
Loie Fuller
Fuller was born near Chicago, Illinois, and quickly began a career in the performance arts as a child actress and burlesque dancer. By 1892 she had moved to Paris, where she became known as a pioneer of modern dance and theatrical lighting. Her trademark was the use of undulating fabrics and inventive stage lighting to create a sense of swirling light.

Modern Art Information Loie Fuller
Judith Cladel
Judith Cladel
Cladel was a French writer, best known as Auguste Rodin's biographer and friend. She promoted his work and exhibitions, and petitioned for the creation of a MusÉe Rodin.

Modern Art Information Judith Cladel
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism
Post-Impressionism refers to a number of styles that emerged in reaction to Impressionism in the 1880s. The movement encompassed Symbolism and Neo-Impressionism before ceding to Fauvism around 1905. Its artists turned away from effects of light and atmosphere to explore new avenues such as color theory and personal feeling, often using colors and forms in intense and expressive ways.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Post-Impressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism is a broad term for a host of movements in early twentieth-century Germany, from Die Brücke (1905) and Der Blaue Reiter (1911) to the early Neue Sachlichkeit painters in the 1920s and '30s. Many German Expressionists used vivid colors and abstracted forms to create spiritually or psychologically intense works, while others focused on depictions of war, alienation, and the modern city.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Expressionism
Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque between 1907-1911, and it continued to be highly influential long after its decline. This classic phase has two stages: 'Analytic', in which forms seem to be 'analyzed' and fragmented; and 'Synthetic', in which pre-existing materials such as newspaper and wood veneer are collaged to the surface of the canvas.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Cubism
Futurism
Futurism
Futurism was the most influential Italian avant-garde movement of the twentieth century. Dedicated to the modern age, it celebrated speed, movement, machinery and violence. At first influenced by Neo-Impressionism, and later by Cubism, some of its members were also drawn to mass culture and nontraditional forms of art.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Futurism
The French Salon
The French Salon
The Salon was a biannual Paris exhibition that, in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, became the most important regular exhibition in Europe. Initially restricted to members of the French Academy, it was later opened up; however, it remained strongly associated with the Academy's conservatism, and this eventually encouraged artists to exhibit outside of its confines.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information The French Salon
Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a French artist who helped pioneer the painterly effects and emphasis on light, atmosphere, and plein air technique that became hallmarks of Impressionism. He is especially known for his series of haystacks and cathedrals at different times of day, and for his late Waterlilies.
TheArtStory - Modern Art GuideModern Art Information Claude Monet
Honore de Balzac
Honore de Balzac
Honore de Balzac was a nineteenth-century French novelist and playwright, and is considered among the founders of European literary realism. One of the most prolific writers in history, Balzac carefully documented city life in Paris and the French people (in fictional form) following the end of Napoleon Bonaporte's reign in 1815. Balzac is still considered among the most influential literary figures in modern history.

Modern Art Information Honore de Balzac
The Age of Bronze
The Age of Bronze

Title: The Age of Bronze (1876 (cast in bronze c.1906))

Artwork Description & Analysis: A young officer was the model for this sculpture, which provided the first great succes de scandale, or "success of a scandal," of Rodin's career. The composition and rough surface of the figure were unconventional by academic standards. The subject also remained obscure - the title only vaguely suggesting classical art - and prompted confusion among critics; rather than clothe his image of man in respected symbolism, Rodin had presented a common man, naked. But controversy ultimately centered on allegations that the piece was a direct cast from the body, rather than a modeled sculpture. The allegations were a testament to Rodin's technical skills, though the suggestion that he had somehow cheated heartily offended the sculptor, who was able to disprove the claim with photographs of his model.


Bronze - Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Gates of Hell
The Gates of Hell

Title: The Gates of Hell (1899)

Artwork Description & Analysis: Rodin labored on this mammoth project for twenty years. It was commissioned in 1880 as a set of doors for the planned Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, but the museum never came to be and he never finished the sculpture to his satisfaction. It is believed that Rodin chose to draw on Dante's Inferno for the subject matter: it was a deliberate attempt to rival Lorenzo Ghiberti's famous bronze doors for the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral, the Gates of Paradise (1425-52), the competition for which is often said to have initiated the Renaissance. Rodin initially planned to split the composition into a series of panels, just as Ghiberti had done, but after looking at images of Michelangelo's Last Judgment (1534-41), he opted for a more fluid arrangement of figures. When the plans for the museum were cancelled, Rodin's urge to complete the sculpture waned, and work dragged on. He exhibited a plaster version of the sculpture at an exhibition at the Place de l'Alma in Paris in 1900, but it was not until 1925, eight years after his death, that two bronze casts were created.


Bronze - Rodin Museum

The Thinker
The Thinker

Title: The Thinker (1880 (bronze cast in 1902))

Artwork Description & Analysis: Although The Gates of Hell was never completed to Rodin's satisfaction in his own lifetime, his work on the project did inspire many other finished works, and The Thinker is the most famous example. Deriving from a figure at the top of the sculpture who gazes with melancholy over the hellish scenes below him, he represents Dante, the author of the Divine Comedy that inspired The Gates of Hell (1899). But highly influenced by Michelangelo, the figure also represents modern, secular man - strong in mind and body, but lonely and doubtful in the position he has created for himself as master of his own universe. Although the seated figure is deeply lost in thought, the dynamic pose gives him a sense of movement. At first glance, the pose appears natural, but in fact the man's right arm on his left knee is twisted in an exaggerated fashion. Over fifty casts were made of this sculpture, which are today scattered throughout the world, making it one of Rodin's most famous works. Rodin also chose The Thinker as his tombstone.


Bronze - Musée Rodin, Paris

The Kiss
The Kiss

Title: The Kiss (c.1884)

Artwork Description & Analysis: Critics gave this sculpture the title The Kiss, but Rodin originally called it "Paolo and Francesca," after the story in Dante's Divine Comedy about a young noblewoman who falls in love with her husband's brother. In the story, the couple is killed by the jealous husband, but Rodin focuses instead on their loving embrace. This erotic sculpture was made during the early years of Rodin's relationship with Camille Claudel. It was probably intended to figure in The Gates of Hell. It is not known why they were not ultimately included; they do not exhibit the same despair as other figures in the composition and so Rodin may have concluded that they were ill-suited. Rodin believed in making his work as widely available as possible, and he produced numerous versions of his most popular works, ensuring his fame with future generations. Over 300 bronze copies of The Kiss had been produced by as early as 1917.


Marble - Victoria & Albert Museum

Burghers of Calais
Burghers of Calais

Title: Burghers of Calais (1889 (cast in bronze 1893))

Artwork Description & Analysis: Rodin won a commission from the town of Calais to portray the heroes who sacrificed themselves to save the town from a siege by the English King Edward III. Although earlier artists had focused on the oldest man, Rodin included all six of them. The figures are arranged all on one level, rejecting the "pyramid" composition typical of figure groups at the time. The men look downtrodden, but determined. They are dressed in rags, and their hands and feet are expressively enlarged. However, their awkward appearance did not suggest the heroic dimension that the town had envisioned, and the sculpture was accepted with some hesitation and compromise. Today, however, it remains well-loved as an emblem of civic sacrifice, with one version standing outside the Houses of Parliament in London.


Bronze - Installed in the Town of Calais

Balzac
Balzac

Title: Balzac (1898 (cast in bronze 1954))

Artwork Description & Analysis: Rodin received the commission to memorialize the great French novelist and poet in 1891. However, as with so many of Rodin's commissions, the work dragged on and on while Rodin struggled to settle on a composition. He spent years reading Balzac's poems, finding pictures of him and models who bore a resemblance to the heavy-set man. Finally, he placed the proud head on top of a body swathed in a huge shapeless robe, and made a mound-like protrusion at his crotch as a reference to his virility. Inevitably, the Société des Gens de Lettres, who had commissioned the sculpture, was displeased, and the cast was rejected. Only in 1930 were two bronze copies made of the piece, and in 1939 one was installed in Paris at the intersection of the boulevards Raspail and Montparnasse.


Bronze - Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Age of Bronze

The Age of Bronze, 1876 (cast in bronze c.1906), Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bronze

A young officer was the model for this sculpture, which provided the first great succes de scandale, or "success of a scandal," of Rodin's career. The composition and rough surface of the figure were unconventional by academic standards. The subject also remained obscure - the title only vaguely suggesting classical art - and prompted confusion among critics; rather than clothe his image of man in respected symbolism, Rodin had presented a common man, naked. But controversy ultimately centered on allegations that the piece was a direct cast from the body, rather than a modeled sculpture. The allegations were a testament to Rodin's technical skills, though the suggestion that he had somehow cheated heartily offended the sculptor, who was able to disprove the claim with photographs of his model.
The Gates of Hell

The Gates of Hell, 1899, Rodin Museum
Bronze

Rodin labored on this mammoth project for twenty years. It was commissioned in 1880 as a set of doors for the planned Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, but the museum never came to be and he never finished the sculpture to his satisfaction. It is believed that Rodin chose to draw on Dante's Inferno for the subject matter: it was a deliberate attempt to rival Lorenzo Ghiberti's famous bronze doors for the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral, the Gates of Paradise (1425-52), the competition for which is often said to have initiated the Renaissance. Rodin initially planned to split the composition into a series of panels, just as Ghiberti had done, but after looking at images of Michelangelo's Last Judgment (1534-41), he opted for a more fluid arrangement of figures. When the plans for the museum were cancelled, Rodin's urge to complete the sculpture waned, and work dragged on. He exhibited a plaster version of the sculpture at an exhibition at the Place de l'Alma in Paris in 1900, but it was not until 1925, eight years after his death, that two bronze casts were created.
The Thinker

The Thinker, 1880 (bronze cast in 1902), Musée Rodin, Paris
Bronze

Although The Gates of Hell was never completed to Rodin's satisfaction in his own lifetime, his work on the project did inspire many other finished works, and The Thinker is the most famous example. Deriving from a figure at the top of the sculpture who gazes with melancholy over the hellish scenes below him, he represents Dante, the author of the Divine Comedy that inspired The Gates of Hell (1899). But highly influenced by Michelangelo, the figure also represents modern, secular man - strong in mind and body, but lonely and doubtful in the position he has created for himself as master of his own universe. Although the seated figure is deeply lost in thought, the dynamic pose gives him a sense of movement. At first glance, the pose appears natural, but in fact the man's right arm on his left knee is twisted in an exaggerated fashion. Over fifty casts were made of this sculpture, which are today scattered throughout the world, making it one of Rodin's most famous works. Rodin also chose The Thinker as his tombstone.
The Kiss

The Kiss, c.1884, Victoria & Albert Museum
Marble

Critics gave this sculpture the title The Kiss, but Rodin originally called it "Paolo and Francesca," after the story in Dante's Divine Comedy about a young noblewoman who falls in love with her husband's brother. In the story, the couple is killed by the jealous husband, but Rodin focuses instead on their loving embrace. This erotic sculpture was made during the early years of Rodin's relationship with Camille Claudel. It was probably intended to figure in The Gates of Hell. It is not known why they were not ultimately included; they do not exhibit the same despair as other figures in the composition and so Rodin may have concluded that they were ill-suited. Rodin believed in making his work as widely available as possible, and he produced numerous versions of his most popular works, ensuring his fame with future generations. Over 300 bronze copies of The Kiss had been produced by as early as 1917.
Burghers of Calais

Burghers of Calais, 1889 (cast in bronze 1893), Installed in the Town of Calais
Bronze

Rodin won a commission from the town of Calais to portray the heroes who sacrificed themselves to save the town from a siege by the English King Edward III. Although earlier artists had focused on the oldest man, Rodin included all six of them. The figures are arranged all on one level, rejecting the "pyramid" composition typical of figure groups at the time. The men look downtrodden, but determined. They are dressed in rags, and their hands and feet are expressively enlarged. However, their awkward appearance did not suggest the heroic dimension that the town had envisioned, and the sculpture was accepted with some hesitation and compromise. Today, however, it remains well-loved as an emblem of civic sacrifice, with one version standing outside the Houses of Parliament in London.
Balzac

Balzac, 1898 (cast in bronze 1954), Museum of Modern Art, New York
Bronze

Rodin received the commission to memorialize the great French novelist and poet in 1891. However, as with so many of Rodin's commissions, the work dragged on and on while Rodin struggled to settle on a composition. He spent years reading Balzac's poems, finding pictures of him and models who bore a resemblance to the heavy-set man. Finally, he placed the proud head on top of a body swathed in a huge shapeless robe, and made a mound-like protrusion at his crotch as a reference to his virility. Inevitably, the Société des Gens de Lettres, who had commissioned the sculpture, was displeased, and the cast was rejected. Only in 1930 were two bronze copies made of the piece, and in 1939 one was installed in Paris at the intersection of the boulevards Raspail and Montparnasse.
Bibliography
The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing this page. These also suggests some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.