A bearded artist kneels reverently in front of his own creation, a dreamy, young female being. Both figures only emerge partially from the rock; the act of creation is not yet finished. The artist is breathing a soul into his invention: shades of Pygmalion as cold stone is laboriously imbued with warm-blooded life. The fragmented form with its philosophical significance and implications of endless toil is a fitting expression for a metaphor of genesis which includes the transient condition of incompleteness. Similar two-figure pieces occur throughout Rodin’s work, demonstrating the complex inter-relationships of antagonism and concurrence, male and female, artist and muse, reverence and devotion, action and contemplation.


  • Title: Man and his Thought
  • Creator: Auguste Rodin
  • Date Created: 1896 - 1900
  • Physical Dimensions: w46.0 x h77.0 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • original title: L'Homme et sa pensé
  • Technique and material: Marble
  • Inv.-No.: B I 158
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Andres Kilger
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist biography: Rodin’s first artistic training began at home when he was just ten years old. As an adolescent he attended the École Impériale de Dessin, or ‘Petit École’ where he learned painting and drawing. From 1864 to 1870 he worked as the assistant of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, following him to Brussels, where he worked as a decorator for a time. In 1875/76 he made an educational journey to Italy where he was drawn by the works of Michelangelo and Donatello. In 1877 he returned to Paris and three years later accepted a job offer from Carrier-Belleuse who was now the art director of a porcelain factory. By this time Rodin’s work was beginning to be more widely appreciated and he received his first invitation to Paris Salons. In 1883 he met the sculpture student Camille Claudel, with whom he had a passionate and stormy relationship. His fame continued to rise and he was frequently approached for commissions, for both public and private works. Although some of his sculptures were criticized during his lifetime because they defied widely-accepted conventions, Rodin is now considered the most important figure in the development of modernist sculpture. A very significant stylistic feature of his was ‘non-finito’ that intentionally gave the impression that the sculpture was incomplete, seen for instance in Psyche. Rodin revived sculpture’s ancient function – to capture the physical and intellectual force of the human subject. 'The Gates of Hell' (1880–1917), a bronze portal which depicts scenes from Dante’s Inferno in high relief, is considered one his masterpieces along with such works as 'The Burghers of Calais' (1885) and 'The Monument to Balzac' (1891–1898).
  • Artist Place of Death: Meudon, France
  • Artist Place of Birth: Paris, France
  • Artist Dates: 1840-11-12/1917-11-17

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