Auguste Rodin

"Le Penseur"

Signed A. Rodin and also signed inside A. Rodin. Foundry mark Alexis Rudier, Fondeur, Paris. The motif conceived 1880-81. Cast between 1915-1925. Bronze, dark brown patina heightened with red and blue. Patinated by Jean Limet (chosen by Auguste Rodin). Height 38 cm (15 in.).

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Droit de suite: No

3 000 000 - 4 000 000 SEK

348 432 - 464 576 EUR

Hammer price: 
12 500 000 SEK
Saleroom notice

Cast between 1915-1925. Patinated by Jean Limet (choosen by Auguste Rodin).
This bronze will be included in the forthcoming "Auguste Rodin - catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté" being currently prepared by the Comité Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Monsieur Jérôme Le Blay with the archive no 2012-4017B.
There are only ten recognized casts in this size from the period 1915-1925.


Bukowski Auktioner AB, Stockholm, Sale 402, 2-5 November 1976, lot 314 (illustrated full page in the catalogue, plate 55).
Marabou Collection, Sundbyberg/Upplands-Väsby, Sweden. (Acquired from the above Sale).
Kraft Foods Sverige AB, Upplands-Väsby, Sweden.


Royal Academy of Art, 23 September - 1 January 2006, compare no 76, 77, 319 och 321.
(In collaboration with Musée Rodin, Paris)
Kunsthaus Zürich, 9 February - 13 May 2007, compare no 76, 77, 319 och 321.
(In collaboration with Musée Rodin, Paris)


Georges Grapp, "Catalogue du Musée Rodin", 1929, described p. 167-169, compare p. 73-74.
Henri Martinie, "Auguste Rodin", 1949, compare no 19.
Albert Elsen, "Rodin", 1963, compare p. 25, 52-53.
Ionel Jianou and Cécile Goldscheider, "Rodin", 1967, compare p. 88, pl. 11.
John L. Tancock, "The sculpture of Auguste Rodin", 1976, compare p. 111-120.
Albert Elsen (ed.), "Rodin Rediscovered", 1981, compare p. 67.
Albert Elsen, "The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin", 1985, compare fig 50 and 60 and p. 56 och 71.
Ragnar von Holten, "Art at Marabou", Uddevalla 1990, illustrated and mentioned p. 37.
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain m.fl, "Rodin", 2006. Compare terracotta p. 55, compare composition in varius material and sizes pp. 64-67, and list of work no 76, 77, 319 and 321. Compare p. 119.
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, "The bronzez of Rodin. Catalogue of works in the Musée Rodin, Volume 1", 2007 compare p. 14, p. 16, p. 28, fig. 44, p. 44, fi. 89, p. 85, no 1131. Volume 2: compare p. 585.

Related content

This bronze will be included in the forthcoming "Auguste Rodin - catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté" being currently prepared by the Comité Rodin at Galerie Brame et Lorenceau under the direction of Monsieur Jérôme Le Blay with the archive no 2012-4017B.
There are only ten recognized casts in this size from the period 1915-1925.
Copy of payment from Mr Johan Throne-Holst to Bukowskis, dated November 3 1976 enclosed.

The Thinker is one of the world’s most famous sculptures, and it exists in several formats. The version in this auction is of the smallest format. Its suggestive power is nevertheless striking. Mankind, in deep thought, perhaps faced with a difficult problem – so poignantly present in its monumentality, so full of vigour - and yet so distant, so blithely isolated in its own mind, contemplation personified in elegant bronze! The study for “The Thinker” was first conceived in 1880, as a crowning figure for Auguste Rodin’s monumental commission, “The Gates of Hell”. The sculpture was intended to measure 70 cm, and its working title was “The Poet”, alluding to Dante Alighieri, who wrote The Divine Comedy – which is also the literary source of the monument. “The Poet” leans forward and regards the infernal scene before him, while he also studies his work, almost like a lost soul, but, in his elated position, also as a “free man”. “The Thinker” differs radically from the other expressive figures, in his mighty, dignified serenity; apart from representing Dante, he could conceivably be an Adam or Prometheus. Other interpretations are also possible, but the influences from pre-Christian art and Michelangelo’s colossal figures are obvious.
Auguste Rodin refrained, however, from giving his central character a specific identity, possibly preferring that viewers instead focus on how the sculpture's design and meaning coincide. Nevertheless, the sculpture is an independent work in its own right and in a completely different genre from the “nude, classical sculptural model”.

Auguste Rodin came from a rather modest background, which made it impossible for him to fulfil his dream of studying at the École des Beaux Artes. Instead, he was enrolled at the École Impériale de Dessin – popularly called “the little academy”, which, despite its “littleness”, had some very good teachers, including Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux. The learning situation must have been inspiring, since Rodin’s fellow students included James Whistler and Henri Fantin-Latour. Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s sculptures were influenced by the Romantic style of painting, and he applied a painterly approach in his sculptures, with regard to both composition and material treatment; light and shade were also vital elements in his work. Auguste Rodin appears to have appreciated his teacher’s methods, and it is no coincidence that there are many similarities between Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s “Ugolino” and “The Thinker”, not least in their composition. His teacher’s sculpture also inspired August Rodin’s other sculpture in this collection, namely “The Prodigal Son”. Unlike Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, however, August Rodin did not primarily become a sculptor who worked in stone, but one who shaped his works in wax and clay. The creative process was central – he was the magician who could bring the material to life with his hands, rather than with hammer and chisel.

“When a good sculptor models the human body, he portrays not only the muscles but also the life that warms them.”

After completing his studies at the “Petite École”, Auguste Rodin worked for a few years as an ornamental stonemason under Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, first in Paris and later in Brussels, where his craftsmanship was admired and where he produced many decorations in the 1870s. On his travels in Italy in 1875-76, Auguste Rodin discovered Michelangelo’s works, which gave him the impulse to work on putting his own methods and aesthetic principles into practice. He succeeded relatively well, and took part in several exhibitions in the 1870s and 1880s. He also worked periodically at the Sèvres porcelain manufactory at that time. The city of Paris was going through great changes after the Paris Commune in 1871. Urban planners such as Haussmann were building wide boulevards and open spaces, transport and roads were developed and the old Mediaeval cityscape was “cleared away”. Sculptural embellishments in the Neo-Baroque style were in huge demand, providing plenty of job opportunities for artists such as Rodin. Competitions were also organised, along with major exhibitions, providing new platforms in addition to the prestigious Salons, for ambitious artists. Auguste Rodin’s works met with varying success. Sometimes, he was praised and won prizes, but he was often criticised, and following a controversy among critics at the Salon in 1877, he was “compensated” by the government by receiving a commission to design the portal of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The commission must have been appreciated by Auguste Rodin – giving him free hands to design whatever he wished. At last, he was at liberty to create according to his own vision, with no demand of being “true to nature”. There are many possible reasons why Auguste Rodin chose The Divine Comedy as his source, but the dramatic narrative of this anguished journey must have had a strong appeal to a “sculptor of emotions”.

“The Thinker” is undeniably the most famous individual sculpture from The Gates of Hell. It was exhibited as a separate work for the first time in 1888 and has since been available as an independent piece in different versions. In 1904, a colossal version of the sculpture was created, and it is this mighty "Thinker” that has enjoyed particular fame and admiration. Numerous replicas of this bronze are now found all over the world, several of them in Paris, including one in the garden of the Rodin museum. “The Thinker” also crowns the grave of Auguste Rodin and his wife, the seamstress Rose Beuret, near their house in Meudon.

“Art is the most sublime mission of man since it is the exercise of thought seeking to understand the world and make it understood.”

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