L'âge d'airain (The Age of Bronze)

Auguste Rodin1880

Museum Folkwang

Museum Folkwang
Essen, Germany

The apparently faithfulness to the model of this male nude created a scandal in the salons in Brussels and Paris in 1877. People suspected Rodin had made this figure, free of any narrative details, with the help of a natural cast of a living model – a suspicion that would long remain. At first there was no plausible explanation for the raised left hand; that it originally held a lance was documented by a photograph only years later. Even with this knowledge, however, an interpretation of this gesture remains open. Rainer Maria Rilke, one of Rodin’s most intimate contemporary cognoscente, observed that “this form is also important in another sense. It marks the birth of the gesture in Rodin’s work. This gesture, that grew and gradually took on such magnitude and force, here arose like a spring which softly ran down the figure.” The athletic, powerful well-modeled body of the figure and its standing motif recall models in Italian Renaissance sculpture; not, however, the hand lying on head the slightly bent back, the suffering expression with half-closed eyes and the gesture with the raised left hand.


  • Title: L'âge d'airain (The Age of Bronze)
  • Creator: Auguste Rodin
  • Date: 1880
  • Provenance: Acquired in 1904 for the Museum Folkwang, Hagen, since 1922 Essen
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: © Museum Folkwang
  • Medium: Bronze
  • Tiefe: 52 cm
  • Höhe: 180 cm
  • Collection: Painting, Sculpture, Media Art
  • Breite: 72 cm

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