domingo, 15 de mayo de 2011

The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin - The Thinker




Not far from The Thinker stands Rodin's monumental masterpiece, The Gates of Hell, installed in the garden of the Museum in 1937. By a decree of 16 August 1880, Rodin received a commission from the Directorate of Fine Arts for a monumental door which was to be decorated with low reliefs inspired by The Divine Comedy of Dante. This door was intended for the planned Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris to be built on the site of the Cour des Comptes, demolished in 1871 (this site is now occupied by the Musée d'Orsay). The subject was probably suggested by Rodin for it is known that he admired Dante and used to keep a copy of his book in his pocket. He started to work feverishly in a studio specially allocated to him for the purpose at the Dépôt des Marbres in Rue de l'Université. His initial idea was a composition in panels similar to the Door of Paradise in the Baptistery of Florence by Ghiberti (1425-1452). However, he soon changed his mind about dividing the door into sections, preferring the example of Michelangelo's Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel. The third maquette (exhibited in room 10) shows that already in 1880 its composition was close to the one finally adopted.
He ignored two thirds of the poem by Dante to concentrate on its darkest side, the part about Hell. The first year was primarily devoted to sketches which followed the text of the poem closely, but once he started modelling, he only retained a few identifiable characters, such as Paolo and Francesca, Ugolino and his Children, The Shades, and The Thinker, a portrayal of Dante himself, among a host of figures in different sizes. These figures or groups invade the traditional underlying structure, sometimes replacing the architectural components, and were made independently of one another. They were tried out on a wooden frame in 1882, then set aside.

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