Saint John the Baptist

Auguste Rodin1878/1880

Kunsthalle Bremen

Kunsthalle Bremen
Bremen, Germany

The sculpture The Bronze Age—first called “The Defeated,” in reference to France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71— was the first freestanding life-sized figure that Auguste Rodin publically displayed. Initially, it was denied recognition as a work of art, as people concluded from its naturalism that the sculpture was nothing more than a cast from nature. In the meantime—like Rodin’s bronzes Man with Broken Nose and Saint John the Baptist— the work is considered to be one of the Kunsthalle Bremen’s masterpieces. Both The Bronze Age and Saint John the Baptist break with the Neoclassical sculptural tradition, as they do not emphasize an ideal or tranquility, but rather expression and movement. When Gustav Pauli, the first, academic director of the Kunsthalle, purchased The Bronze Age from the artist in 1905, he wondered whether the figure represented an injured person or someone waking. Yet also in a traditional interpretation of the Bronze Age, which, as the third stage of human history, stands for injustice and war as well as for attaining consciousness, he did not find an answer. On February 4, 1906, however, Rodin ended the uncertainty in a letter carried to Pauli, reaching him via Rainer Maria Rilke: “Actually, it is rather the awakening, the slow return from a deep and heavy sleep, that is conjured up by the gesture of the young man still so preoccupied with his dreams.”


  • Title: Saint John the Baptist
  • Creator: Auguste Rodin
  • Date Created: 1878/1880
  • Physical Dimensions: 200.0 x 82.0 x 114.0 cm
  • Type: sculpture
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Bronze, with black patina

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