Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
'The Age Of Bronze'
Height 180.3 cm
Inscribed 'Rodin' on the upper surface of the base and 'Alexis Rudier/Fondeur Paris' on the side of the base
Museum no. A.33-1914
Given by the artist
This statue was the first large-scale work to bring Rodin to the attention of the public, but it also caused much controversy. The figure was so life-like that critics accused him of having taken plaster casts directly from the model. This slur was only overcome by the intervention of leading sculptors, who publicly defended Rodin's masterly modelling. Another problem for critics was that the work had no allegorical, mythological or narrative content, unlike most French sculpture at this date.
Rodin created the work during the Franco-Prussian war, when he left Paris to live in Belgium. It was his first monumental figure, and as a model he chose a soldier, Auguste Neyt, from the nearby barracks. Influenced by the sculpture of Michelangelo, which he had studied in the Louvre and also in Italy the previous year, Rodin concentrated his attention entirely on Neyt's body.
The plaster was bought by the French government in 1880, though it was not cast in bronze until 1884, a date that marks the official acceptance of Rodin's work.