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The Thinker Sculpture

The thinker statue

One of Auguste Rodin’s most well-known creations depicts a contemplative nude male.  Many marble and bronze copies in various sizes were created during and after Rodin’s lifetime, but the most renowned version is the 1.8-meter bronze sculpture in the Rodin Museum’s gardens, produced in 1904.

who was auguste rodin?

He worked as an ornamental sculptor for years before achieving international prominence as a result of success and scandal. He was compared to Michelangelo by the time he died.

rodin's statue

The Thinker was intended as part of The Gates of Hell, which began as a commission for a set of bronze doors for a projected museum of ornamental arts in Paris.

details of the sculpture

The naked figure sits on a rock, his back bent, brows strained, chin laying on his relaxed hand, and lips pressed into his knuckles. He sees the writhing shapes of those suffering in the rings of Hell below, still and pensive.


The Thinker has been cast in numerous variants and can be seen all over the world, but the history of the model to casting transition is still a mystery. There are about 28 massive bronze castings in museums and public spaces.

michelangelo's influence

Rodin was not, however, consciously referencing Michelangelo’s posture. Rodin opted to create his Thinker naked in the spirit of Michelangelo and his Renaissance contemporaries’ heroic nudes.

a clothed statue

Rodin flirted with the notion of a clad Thinker throughout the protracted building of The Gates of Hell.

the terrorist incident

When bombers tied three sticks of dynamite to The Thinker‘s base outside the Cleveland Museum of Art on March 24, 1970, it was defenseless. The feet were blown off and his legs were permanently injured.