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12 facts you didn’t know about The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

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Have you ever read The Thinker by Auguste Rodin analyze? Such a great variety of sculptures exist in the world. But not all of them impress and inspire us, and fewer yet which express. The thinker is one of the sculptures that was once made and continue to affect through years.

Originally this sculpture was a part of a huge work made by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris in 1880. They planned to make such doors in the museum which would depict The Gates of Hell from Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy.” The Thinker was the first cast in 1904, although Rodin worked on the whole Gates of Hell for 37 years.
Just a few sculptures in the entire world are as iconic as Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker.” Let’s check if you know everything, or you can get something new here.

The statue is a brilliant piece of another big work.

This little part was supposed to be the part of The Gates of Hell. Musée des Arts Décoratifs asked Auguste to make this gates for their museum, and it was expected to be an astonishing and exciting gate with little pieces of Dante’s creatures. The Thinker must be above the gates, looking on all people.

The Gates of Hell failed to be built.

Interesting fact about the museum, as Rodin was hired to make the sculpture for a new museum of decorative arts in Paris, he started his work and continued it until 37 years! Can you imagine that you continue doing something for 37 years and in a result, people say to you, that it is no more needed?
The Gates of Hell was never finished, and the museum itself was never built.

The author explained the secret of success.

Enormous popularity was really strange, once Rodin explained why he thinks it happened. He said that the sculpture, his Thinker, is not a common one, he thinks not only with a brain, with his gloomy brows, whirled nostrils and pressed lips, but he thinks with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his gritted fist and toes.”

You can see in the sculpture the entire world.

While he was alive, Rodin made at least ten copies of the statue. After his death, all the rights were sent to the nation of France, and after that, the number of copies grew up to 20.

Today, you can see versions of The Thinker in different parts of the world, especially in Europe. To name at least several we can mention Geneva’s Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria, Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, and Paris’ Musée Rodin. By the way, one of the sculptures is on the Rodin’s grave.

Michelangelo influenced the creation of the piece.

Why is he naked? Rodin just chose this conception to be in a trend of the Michelangelo epoch, there we see so much heroic nudes, which take our breath away.

Innovations in techniques allow doing much more things.

In 1836, after the Collas Machine was invented by Achille Collas, the life of most of the artists became easier. For example, Rodin doubled his work to 2 meters (6 foot) version which was fascinating and much more impressive.
Sounds hard, but within it was even more incredible.

Gates of Hell’s spin-off.

Have you ever thought that art could even have spin-offs? From the original 6x4x1 meters (19x13x3 foot) work, the French sculptor made other independent versions of The Thinker, The Three Shades, and The Kiss.

Cleveland’s Thinker was the victim of a terrorist attack.

A statue was made to stand on the Gate; all other versions are placed outside near the door. On March 24, 1970, happened a scary thing. Still, unidentified bombers blew the sculpture up and fled the scene. The explosion did serious damage to the sculpture; it harmed the feet and legs. Police thought that the Weather Underground was responsible for that, but no evidence was found.

Sculpture still stands in the museum without renovating.

Sculptures marked a comeback for Rodin.

As usually happens, people who have talent are not admitted while they are alive. That happened after their death. In 1890th Rodin was asked to make a monument to Balzac. But its unusualness got lots of critics, and the Society of Men of Letters threatened him with a lawsuit. After that Rodin took the sculpture back and kept it in his house. Only after a century was gone and The Thinker became so popular, people forgot about that little misstep with Balzac’s monument.

The Thinker did his solo in 1888.

The sculptor was an experimenter that is why he decided to change the height of his statue. Being around 1 meter (3 feet) tall, The Thinker was just a statue, nice, but nothing special, and after some time author decided to make him bigger and it was the right move. Bronze, massive and majestic Thinker became 2 meters (6 feet) tall and started being the center of culture.

The Thinker is not its given name.

Originally Rodin wanted to call the figure “The Poet.” Of course, the name supports a theory that Rodin made sculpture in honor of Dante. But, The Thinker doesn’t fit with the 19th-century view of the right height. That’s why a new theory appears; people say that it might be Rodin himself as a statue regarding on his creation. As it supposed to be on the top of his Gate.

The Thinker had a wardrobe.

During the lengthy creation, 37 years as you remember, Rodin thought about the idea to dress his statue up. As he wanted to dedicate it to Dante which appears in a long white robe while thinking about him, Rodin decided not to do that. No one knows why, but that was the right decision.

Interpretation of sculpture

What do we see in the sculpture?

An average person will see a common man, who sits alone on a rock, being absorbed in thoughts. Those thoughts are unknown to us and will stay unknown for all following generations. The statue is a mystery and secret. What should a huge talent you have to make a sculpture that will have an aura and atmosphere, which will stay alive within so many years?

We can see that Thinker leans and his elbow is on his knee. Moreover, his hand supports his chin. He is focused; he intently casts his eyes downward. He is not resting; all his body shows that he is working, and doing it hard.

When he decided to make The Thinker as a strong, athletic figure, Rodin supported the idea, of a process of thinking. He explained that brain is a powerful exercise as well.

Sculpture aims to create the symbol of people who use their imagination to create something. They can be the artists, writers, scientists, and other. Rodin is like The Thinker who has a deep mind and rich imagination.


  • McGasko, Joe. “The Fertile Thought: Auguste Rodin and ‘The Thinker’.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 4 Apr. 2016, www.biography.com/news/rodin-the-thinker-analysis.
  • “Auguste Rodin Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story, www.theartstory.org/artist-rodin-auguste.htm.
  • “12 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Thinker’.” Mental Floss, 10 Apr. 2015, mentalfloss.com/article/62424/12-things-you-didnt-know-about-thinker.

Read next:

Botticelli’s design principles of the birth of Venus
Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam art analysis
Venus de Milo: Interesting Facts About the Sculpture

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