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Youth and education
Birth of Auguste Rodin on 12 November in the Rue de l’Arbalète, in the 12th arrondissement (present 5th arrondissement), a poor area of Paris.
Charles Hippolyte Aubry, Rodin in his sculptor's smock, circa 1862, [Ph.004]
At the age of 14, Rodin persuades his father to let him attend the École Impériale Spéciale de Dessin et de Mathématiques – known as the “Petite École” – where he is taught by the painter Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. These four years are essential to his training: while learning traditional techniques, he hones his powers of observation and practises drawing from memory.
Auguste Rodin, Copy after an antic scene, before 1860
With a bronze medal for drawing to his credit, he joins the sculpture class and spends much of his time sketching in the Louvre, in the print department of the Imperial Library and at the Gobelins Tapestry Factory.
Auguste Rodin, Male Nude, between 1854 and 1857
After winning a top award for drawing, Rodin leaves the “Petite École” and applies to the École des Beaux-Arts to study sculpture. He fails the entrance examination three times in a row. He thus commences his artistic career outside of official channels.
To help support his family financially, Rodin works with several different decorative artists and ornamentalists.
Meets the sculptor Jules Dalou (1838-1902).
Rodin makes the Bust of Jules Dalou in 1883 in order to celebrate the medal of honour that Dalou obtained in the Salon.
Charles Hippolyte Aubry, Portrait of Rodin wearing a top hat, circa 1862, [Ph.00003]
Earliest sculpture : Bust of Jean-Baptiste Rodin, his father, portrayed as a Roman legislator.
Auguste Rodin, Bust of Jean-Baptiste Rodin, 1860, [S.00971]
Sorely affected by the death of his sister, Maria, Rodin enters the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament as a novice under the name Brother Augustin. While there, he makes the bust of Father Pierre-Julian Eymard, who founded the order in 1856.
Charles-Hippolyte Aubry, Rodin working on the Bust of Father Eymard, estimated 1863, [Ph.00161]
Rodin attends classes in animal anatomy run by Antoine Louis Barye (1795-1875) at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
Meets Rose Beuret (1844-1917), then aged 20, who becomes his lifelong companion. She was one of Rodin's model and her first portrait was named after Geothe’s héroïne, Mignon.
Auguste Rodin, Mignon, [S.00973]
he young sculptor learns all the ins and outs of running a large studio, even though he would subsequently disown the sculptures he modelled there “simply to earn a living”. The most representative work from this period is Young Woman in a Floral Hat the handling of which and concern for detail reflect the type of ornamental sculpture sought after by middle-class buyers at this time.
Birth of Camille Claudel (+1943)
Auguste Rodin, Young Woman in a Floral Hat, [S.01056]
The Man with the Broken Nose is rejected by the Salon jury. It reveals the battered face of a poor man of the neighbourhood named "Bibi". But a particularly harsh winter froze the head made of raw clay which split to the point that the back part broke. Reduced to a mask, this work was considered incomplete.
Auguste Rodin, Man with the Broken Nose, [S.01863]
18 January: birth of his illegitimate son, Auguste-Eugène Beuret (1866-1934), future draughtsman and engraver.
Inspired by his birth, Rodin starts drawing and sculpting works depicting children.
Auguste Rodin, Three nude children, circa 1870, [D.00038]
Rodin is drafted into a regiment of the Garde Nationale and given his corporal’s stripes, but is soon discharged on the grounds of nearsightedness.
Joins Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse in Belgium and works on various decorative schemes on buildings and monuments with him.
Death of his mother, Marie Rodin.
Takes part in an exhibition for the first time in Belgium.
Portrait of Mme J.B Rodin, undated, [Ph.00066]
End of his collaboration with Albert Ernest Carrier-Belleuse when he discovers that Rodin shows his works under his own name.
Rose Beuret joins Rodin in Brussels.
Signs a contract with the Belgian sculptor Antoine-Joseph Van Rasbourgh (1831-1902), another of Carrier-Belleuse’s former employees. Their main source of income comes from the decoration of public buildings in Brussels.
Executes the Atalantes and Caryatids on the Boulevard Anspach, in a totally independent manner.
Submits entries to the International Exhibitions in London and Vienna.
Duquenne, House of Boulevard Anspach in Bruxelles, estimated 1928, [Ph.02406]
Works on the decoration of the Palais des Académies, Brussels.
Executes a series of landscapes in the forest of Soignes (Dirt Track to Watermael through the Forest of Soignes, Golden Twilight on the Dunes in the Forest of Soignes, between 1871 and 1877), where Rodin enjoys walking with Rose, including about thirty small landscape paintings, mounted on cardboard, and ten red chalk drawings.
Produces lithographs used as illustrations in the satirical magazine Le Petit Comique.
Auguste Rodin, A clearing spot in the forest of Soignes, [P.07229]
Exhibits Man with the Broken Nose at the Paris Salon (1 May-20 June). Rodin is extremely fond of this portrait which he regards as his “first good sculpture”. The acceptance of his work at the Salon is a victory in itself, even if the general public have not yet heard of the sculptor Rodin.
Auguste Rodin, Man with the Broken Nose, [S.00974]
Travels to Italy to study the works of Renaissance artists, especially Michelangelo. As soon as Rodin returns to France, he designs a life-size nude study as a tribute to the Florentine sculptor. Initially shown without a title, then called, in turn, The Vanquished One and The Awakening Man, it is eventually named The Age of Bronze, an allusion to the third of the four ages of mankind, as described by the early Greek poet Hesiod.
His works are shown at the Centennial International Exhibition, in Philadelphia, USA.
Exhibits The Age of Bronze at the Salon des Artistes Français, Paris. Rodin is accused of having made a life cast from his model. Deeply insulted, the sculptor put together a hefty file containing evidence to the contrary and photographs of the model, a young Belgian soldier called Auguste Neyt. But his efforts are in vain.
Gaudenzi Marconi, Age of Bronze, estimated 1877, [Ph.02152]
Completes the model for the Monument to Byron, which he submits to the competition in London.
In the autumn, Rodin embarks upon his first tour of French cathedrals in the centre of France.
After spending seven years in Belgium, Rodin and Rose return to France. He begins working as an ornamental sculptor again due to financial hardship. He makes notably mascarons (Fine Weather and Bad Weather) decorating the fountain at the Palais du Trocadéro, built for the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1878.
Rodin works in Marseilles on the decoration of the Palais des Beaux-Arts and in Nice on the decoration of the Villa Neptune.
Makes vases, adorned with hollow-cut and relief motifs, in a variety of shapes and colours, for the Sèvres Porcelain Factory (run by Carrier-Belleuse), from 1879 to 1882.
Étienne Carjat, Portrait of Rodin, estimated 1879, [Ph.00148]
1840-1879 : Youth and education | 1880-1899 : The great years of creation >