RODIN, Auguste
(b. 1840, Paris, d. 1917, Meudon)

The Thinker

1902-04
Bronze, height 180 cm
Musée Rodin, Paris

This sculpture depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle. It is often used to represent philosophy. Its first cast is now in the Musée Rodin in Paris; there are some 20 other original castings, as well as various other versions, studies, and posthumous castings.

Originally the statue was part of a portal commissioned by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Rodin based the theme on The Divine Comedy of Dante and entitled the portal The Gates of Hell. Each of the statues in the piece represented one of the main characters in the epic poem. This detail from the Gate of Hell was first named "The Thinker" by foundry workers, who noted its similarity to Michelangelo's statue of Lorenzo de Medici called "Il Penseroso" (the Thinker).