The Thinker


The Thinker (Le Penseur) is a sculpture produced by Auguste Rodin in 1919, which is currently located in the Musée Rodin in Paris.


The Thinker was originally conceived to be Dante pondering his great poem and was supposed to be placed atop of Rodin’s work ‘The Gates of Hell’ (a representation of Dante’s poem ‘The Divine Comedy’, also located in the Musée Rodin in Paris). This plan however did not come to fruition. Instead Rodin creates a thinker who evolves from a dreamer into a creator. The figure of the Thinker is represented nude to refer back to the heroic figures produced by Michelangelo. Furthermore, the pose adopted by Rodin’s sculpture bears a striking resemblance to a sculpture of Lorenzo di Medici produced by Michelangelo, which is also referred to as ‘The Thinker’.

The sculpture on display in the Musée Rodin in Paris is one of twenty-eight monumental casts of the Thinker. The original sculpture, entitled ‘The Poet’, was modelled in 1880-1 (approx. 70 cm, to be placed atop the Gates of Hell). In 1888 Rodin then exhibited the sculpture separate to the Gates and gave it the name the Thinker. In 1902 he enlarged the sculpture (to be made a standalone sculpture). In 1904 the sculpture was first put on public display and in 1906 it was placed outside the Panthéon in Paris. In 1922 the sculpture was relocated to the Hôtel Biron which is currently the Musée Rodin. The sculpture measures six feet seven inches tall and is cast in bronze.

Did you known?

The Thinker was not the only sculpture to be taken from the gates of hell, enlarged and exhibited as an independent sculpture. The sculptures of ‘The Kiss’ and ‘The Three Shades’ were developed in a similar fashion to the Thinker. Bothe of these sculptures can also be seen in the Musée Rodin in Paris.

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