Auguste Rodin on Film

The Works of the Founder of Modern Sculpture on 35mm

4 min read by Abhijeet Dangat.

There are more than a hundred museums in the city of Paris. Everyone, of course, knows about the Louvre, but many smaller galleries and institutes have also preserved and protected the works of famous artists. One of my personal favourite museums in Paris is the Hôtel Biron site of Musée Rodin, dedicated to the works of the founder of modern sculpture, the great Auguste Rodin.

Rodin was highly inspired by the magnificent Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri from the Middle Ages and his magnum opus Divine Comedy.

You can find below my attempt at capturing Rodin’s most famous work inspired by Dante on 35 mm —

The Thinker (original French: Le Penseur)

Built-in Bronze, a naked man sitting on a rock deep in his thoughts is probably Rodin’s most famous work. The Thinker is also a minor part of Rodin’s other major work, The Gates of Hell. Initially titled The Poet, The Thinker was modelled after Dante.

I captured independent The Thinker sitting in the gardens of the museum from different angles.

The Kiss (original French: Le Baiser).

Made in marble, The Kiss depicts lovers Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini in a sensual setting as they are just about to kiss. Witnessing the details of their muscles and the intimacy ignited a passionate feeling in me. 

The real-life characters also have an origin in the epic Divine Comedy by Dante. Paolo was the younger brother of Francesca’s husband, Giovanni Malatesta. The story says that when Giovanni heard about the affair, he killed both Paolo and Francesca with his own hands.

Like The Thinker, The Kiss was initially a part of The Gates, but Rodin decided not to include it in it as he felt that the sculpture signals joy and allure, far from the explication behind The Gates.

The Gates of Hell (original French: La Porte de l’Enfer).

This passion project of Rodin depicts a scene from Inferno, the first section of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Rodin thought of Dante’s warning over the entrance, “Abandon every hope, who enter here”. 

He worked on this periodically for some 37 years. Rodin wanted to exhibit this work at the Exposition Universelle of 1889, a world fair in Paris for which the Eiffel Tower was created and put on exhibition. Rodin couldn’t complete the work by then. He stopped working on it circa 1890.

At 6 metres high and 4 metres wide, this bronze work contains around 180 figures, including The Thinker and a different version of The Kiss.

Hôtel Biron.

After having a profoundly good day exploring Rodin’s work, I spent a couple of hours relaxing in the outer gardens and clicked this photo of six young men and women sitting on the hotel’s steps. I was glad to see fellow youngsters visit the museum, an activity getting less popular with my generation. Next time you are in Paris, I encourage you to visit the museum. I am certain you will experience something genuinely extraordinary.