Lot 7
  • 7

Auguste Rodin

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Auguste Rodin
  • Le penseur
  • Inscribed with the signature A. Rodin and with the foundry mark Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris; stamped with the raised signature Rodin on the underside of the base
  • Bronze 
  • Height: 28 1/4 in.
  • 71.8 cm


Musée Rodin, Paris

Eugène Rudier, Paris (acquired from the above)

M. Friedrich Welz (acquired from the above in 1940 for the Landesgalerie in Salzburg)

Confiscated by the Allies in Austria between 1945 and 1946 and entrusted to the Commission Nationale de Récupération, Paris

Musée Rodin, Paris (entrusted by the Direction des Musées de France on November 17, 1949)

Janos Peter Kramer, Buenos Aires (acquired from the above through the intermediary Ernest Deutsch in September 1954 and sold: Parke-Bernet, Inc., New York, April 5, 1967, lot 11)

Acquired at the above sale by the late owner


George Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1929, nos. 167-69, illustrations of the example at the Musée Rodin pp. 73-74
Henri Martinie, Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1949, no. 19, illustration of another cast
Albert E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, illustrations of other casts pp. 25, 52 & 53
Ionel Jianou and Cécile Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, edition catalogued p. 88; illustration of another cast pl. 11
John L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, edition catalogued and illustrations of other casts pp. 111-20
Albert E. Elsen (ed.), Rodin Rediscovered, Washington, 1981, illustration of the clay p. 67
Albert E. Elsen, The Gates of Hell by Auguste Rodin, Stanford, 1985, figs. 50 & 60, illustrations of the clay model pp. 56 & 71

Catalogue Note

Probably the single most iconic image in Rodin's oeuvre, Le Penseur was conceived circa 1880 for the center of the tympanum of his Gates of Hell.  Rodin originally intended the figure to represent Dante, surrounded by all the characters of the Divine Comedy, but while working on the maquettes for the doors his conception changed to a more generalized figure symbolizing the thinker, the creator and the dreamer - a symbol of the poet and of creative genius.

This work belongs to the group of major early sculptures inspired by Michelangelo, whose art deeply affected Rodin when he first visited Italy in 1875.  This monumental figure was discussed by the artist shortly before his death, when he made clear his concern with expressing the act of thinking:  "Nature gives me my model, life and thought; the nostrils breathe, the heart beats, the lungs inhale, the being thinks and feels, has pains and joys, ambitions, passions, emotions...  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 fist and gripping toes" (quoted in Saturday Night, Toronto, December 1, 1917).  Although made for Gates of Hell, Rodin considered The Thinker as an independent work, and it was first exhibited as such in Copenhagen in 1888.