- Auguste Rodin
- Penseur, Petit modèle
- Inscribed A. Rodin and with the foundry mark ALEXIS RUDIER FONDEUR. PARIS.; stamped with the raised signature A. Rodin (on the interior)
- Height: 14 7/8 in.
- 37.8 cm
Thence by descent
Georges Grappe, Catalogue du Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, illustration of the plaster p. 40
Henri Martinie, Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1949, no. 19, illustration of another cast n.p.
Albert E. Elsen, Rodin, New York, 1963, illustrations of other casts pp. 25, 52 & 53
Ionel Jianou & 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, D.C., 1981, illustration of the clay model 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
Hélène Pinet, Rodin Sculpteur et les photographes de son temps, Paris, 1985, illustrations of other casts pp. 80-83
Antoinette Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, Paris, 2007, vol. II, illustration of other casts pp. 584-94
From at least 1888, when the larger version of the sculpture was first exhibited in Copenhagen, Rodin considered Le Penseur to be an autonomous composition. The following year it was shown in Paris, with the original title Dante revised to read Le Penseur: le poète. The work's effect on viewers and critics was immediate and potent, allowing it to transcend the larger scheme of La Porte de l'enfer. Artists such as Edward Steichen and Edvard Munch worked through a hypnotic attachment to the model. Writer and critic Gabriel Mourey wrote of the work in 1906: "he is no longer the poet suspended over the pit of sin and expiation; he is our brother in suffering, curiosity, contemplation, joy, the bitter joy of searching and knowing. He is no longer a superhuman, a predestined human being; he is simply a man for all ages, for all latitudes" (G. Mourey, "Le Penseur de Rodin offert par souscription publique au peuple de Paris" in Les Arts de la vie, vol. 1, no. 5, May 1904, p. 268).
Le Penseur, Petit modèle has distinguished provenance. This sculpture was acquired by Mr. & Mrs. Ralph T. King of Cleveland in the early twentieth century. A notable business man, Ralph King held the largest portion of downtown real estate in Cleveland at the turn of the century. He and his wife, Fanny Tewksbury King, were instrumental in the development of the Cleveland Museum of Art. They donated over eight-hundred works to the Museum, founded the Museum's Print Department and served on its Board of Trustees and Advisory Council. Two of their most notable donations to the Museum were works by Rodin - an example of L'Age d'airain and a monumental cast of Le Penseur, both acquired directly from the artist. In 1970, Le Penseur, which adorns the steps of the Museum, was damaged by a bomb, the evidence of which is visible in the lower portion of the figure which still adorns this grand staircase. The present work remained as a cherished part of their personal collection.