(b. 1840, Paris, d. 1917, Meudon)
The Age of Bronze1877
Bronze, height 181 cm
Musée Rodin, Paris
In 1875 Rodin decided to travel to Italy, the voyage was a mandatory stage in any artistic career at that time. In Florence, Rodin studied Michelangelo enthusiastically, paying him tribute on his return to Paris by completing a study of a life-sized nude. Initially exhibited without a title, later dubbed The Vanquished One and still later Man Awakening to Nature, it ultimately became known as The Age of Bronze, in reference to the third age of humanity as described by the Greek poet Hesiod. The figure represents the painful awakening of individual consciousness. Rodin breathed life into it through his mastery of the human form, handled with particular sensitivity to modeling and the subtle play of light and shadow.
Rodin's knowledge of old masters began at the Louvre, where he tirelessly drew and copied all that endlessly repeated imagery from the past. The allusion to Michelangelo's Dying Slave in Rodin's The Age of Bronze is obvious.