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Like most 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”. 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”. He applied, but was not accepted. 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” . 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”. 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 a 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. 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 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…”. “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. Early on in the year of 1877, Rodin was accused of being an imposter. The Salon claimed that he had taken a statue and just molded right over it with new material. When Rodin found out what he was being accused of, he rushed to the press and had pictures taken to prove that he was not an imposter, and to prove that the sculpture was not exactly like the human body. Finally, the Salon concluded that it was not the same thing and Rodin said, “I have learned how to use it bronze casting.” Rodin returned to Paris in late1877, when a death occurred in the family. Rodin had lost his mother, and now his father had gone blind and was beginning to turn senile. If that were not enough, his son, from his common-law wife Rose was almost completely retarded. Some say that it is possible that he suffered a head injury when he fell from a two-story window as a young baby. Even though his son was dying, Rodin attempted to give his son drawing lessons, but his son appeared to ignore him. Throughout Auguste Rodin’s work, one can see the similarities between his work and Michelangelo’s work. One can assume that after one man studies another great man, traits and ideas will shine through the artists’ work. The Age of Bronze resembles Michelangelo’s Dying Slave by the posture that the two statues share. The two men are twisted in the same fashion, as if they are “frozen” and sculpted just as the artist saw them. One leg of each statue has its knee bent, both heads are looking forward, and the arm is raised in the air. Rodin’s Crouching Woman resembles many characteristics from Michelangelo’s Crouching Youth. The Crouching Woman, created between 1880-1882, looks as if she has eternal suffering. This is given away by the way her knees are bent, implying that she may be helpless, she wants to be pitied, or she is tired. The similarities between the two statues is easier to see than the differences. Both figures heads are tilted the same way. Both knees are bent and intertwined with her own arms; while one hand holds one foot. Both women have clear muscle definition, but the facial expression is just like the muscle definition, obvious that there are no emotions to show. Lastly, both sculptures are left in an un-sculptured stone for a base. Once again, Michelangelo’s work can be seen in Rodin’s Faun and Child. The Faun and Child was designed in December 1882, and is almost a replica of Michelangelo’s sketch of the prophet Jechonius. Both adult figures have their heads looking back, as if both guardian and child are in danger. Secondly, the guardian is holding the child with his/her left arm. Lastly, it seems as though the children are either reaching or looking at something that they yearn for. Rodin was a very talented artist, sculptor, and thinker. He was able to make people see things the way that he saw them, and even though it was tough getting started, he prevailed and was able to live happily; considering what a hard life he had. Rodin died in November 1917 and his common-law wife, Rose, died in February of 1917. Rodin died with having completed over 400 sculptures and 7,000 drawings.Two of Rodin’s most famous pieces of work were finally shown in the Salon in 1878, The Man with the Broken Nose and the Age of Bronze.
I had a chance to see several Rodins and visit his home in paris last summer and while he may reflect Michealangelo ,it was clear ,no one could deny his talent as a sculptor. His forms hold such a strong sense of motion and strength. My favorite would have to be his sculpture the Kiss, it stands in the garden deTolluries in paris and just left such a strong impression on me.
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2.HalWilliam Harlan and the Editors of Time-Life Books. The World of Rodin: 1840-1917.Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1978.
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