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The Thinker

Foundry mark back of base to left: ALEXIS RUDIER/Fondeur. PARIS

Auguste Rodin, French, 1840 - 1917. Cast by the foundry Alexis Rudier, Paris, 1874 - 1952.

Made in France, Europe

Modeled 1880-1881; cast 1924


27 1/8 x 15 3/4 x 19 3/4 inches (68.9 x 40 x 50.2 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Rodin Museum

* Rodin Museum, Main Gallery

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Jules E. Mastbaum, 1929

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Rodin originally conceived this figure for The Gates of Hell. In 1889 he exhibited it as an independent sculpture, entitled The Thinker; The Poet, Fragment of a Door. The work was subsequently cast in bronze in three different sizes, including this one of the original, or medium, size.

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    Today, Rodin's pensive, seated figure is inseparable from its title, yet the work had a long genesis. Rodin initially intended the sculpture to represent the Italian poet Dante Alighieri seated on a rock and brooding over his masterwork, The Divine Comedy, and to surmount his monumental project The Gates of Hell. Deeply influenced by Michelangelo and consciously emulating Renaissance sculpture in his plan for the cast-bronze doors, Rodin gave the seated nude a twisting contrapposto in which the right elbow rests on the left knee. When the sculpture was exhibited in Paris in 1889, nine years after Rodin first conceived it, it was dubbed The Thinker; The Poet, Fragment of a Door and began to be reproduced in bronze independently of the Gates, though the figure remained a focal point of the doors. Despite the numerous studies and the full-scale plaster model that Rodin made for The Gates of Hell, the doors remained uncast in his lifetime, and it was at the initiative of the Philadelphia collector Jules Mastbaum that the first two casts were made in 1925. One is installed at the doorway of the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia and the other is in the garden of the Musée Rodin, Paris. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 100.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.