Google doodlers honor François-Auguste-René Rodin with a doodle of his most famous sculpture, The Thinker. Born on November 12, 1840, Rodin had already exhibited a penchant for the arts and had started drawing at the age of ten. In his teens, he formally studied painting and drawing at the Petite Ecole which specialized in art and mathematics. Under the tutelage of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, he learned how to draw in his own unique style recollections of objects he had previously observed. He left Petite Ecole in 1857 and attempted to be accepted at the Grand Ecole. However, all of his three applications were denied, so he went on to producing ornamentals and architectural embellishments as a craftsman instead.
Five years after, he turned away from art when his sister Maria died leaving him in anguish. He joined the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament where Saint Peter Julian Eymard saw his immense talent and encouraged him to pursue his craft as a sculpture. Rodin heeded his advice and took classes with Antoine-Louis Barye who was an animal sculptor who paid particular attention to the musculature of animals while in motion. This meticulous attention to detail greatly influenced Rodin’s art.
It wasn’t until he went to Belgium though, and subsequently to Italy, that a definite artistic direction came to effect. During his travels in Italy, he greatly marvelled at the art of Donatello and Michaelangelo whose artistic influences are evident in Rodin’s works. In this pivotal period, he worked on The Age of Bronze which brought him both acclaim and criticism. The life-size male figure was created with such realism that he was accused of using a cast from a living model. To disprove his critics, his subsequent works were either larger than life, St. John the Baptist Preaching, or in a much smaller scale, The Gates of Hell. It was for The Gates’ lintel that he originally designed, The Thinker, his most-famed work and one of the most well-known in the world.
Though widely criticized for his sculptural works’ seemingly lack of theme, Rodin’s fame continued to grow and he was commissioned to create many other sculptures for prominent people. All his sculptural masterpieces exhibit great realism and intense emotion which show man’s magnificence and tragedy in harmonious discord. Undeniably, Rodin’s greatest contribution to the arts is providing freedom from structured and traditional art.
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