The Thinker / The Poet | A sculpture by Auguste Rodin, 1900

The Thinker in Rodin’s studio, 1900                                                    Statue of the Thinker on Auguste Rodin’s tomb in the park of Villa des Brillants

“What makes my Thinker think is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back and legs, with his clenched fists and gripping toes.”

Auguste Rodin

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Harley Granville-Barker: Nude portrait of George Bernard Shaw in pose of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ , 1910
American boxer Jack Dempsey poses as Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’, 1923

Auguste Rodin, 1915

The depiction of a nude man hunched over in apparent thought was originally part of Rodin’s
The Gates of Hell. Standing nearly 20 feet tall, the work was meant to capture the first section
of Dante Alighieri‘s epic poem Divine Comedy. The Thinker can be seen perched above the
Auguste Rodin originally called this pondering figure The Poet. This name supports the theory
that the statue was meant as a depiction of Dante. But because The Thinker doesn’t fit with the
19th century view of a tall, slim Dante, some have seen a more allegorical nature:
They theorize that it might be Rodin himself regarding his creation, or perhaps the biblical Adam considering the sins of his descendants. The name The Thinker is credited to foundry workers who
felt the sculpture bore a notable resemblance to Michelangelo’s sculpture of the same name.
‘The Thinker’ by Rodin is removed from the coffin for placement in the sculpture garden of
the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, July 11, 1956

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