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Rodin, Auguste, for René François Augustelocked

Extract

French, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 12 November 1840 , in Paris; died 17 November 1917 , in Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine).

Sculptor, watercolourist, painter (wash), draughtsman. Figures, nudes. Busts, statues, groups, monuments.

Symbolism.

Auguste Rodin was born on the Rue de l’Arbalète, in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris. His father came from Normandy and his mother from Lorraine. His father was a salaried clerk in the police force. As a child, Rodin loved drawing, and as soon as he was 14 years old and had completed his early education at a boarding school in Beauvais run by an uncle, his parents, far from thwarting his aspirations, enrolled him at the École Impériale de Dessin. This school was located on the Rue de l’École de Médecine and was known as the ‘Petite École’ - as opposed to the ‘Grande École’ (the École des Beaux-Arts). The Petite École was run by Lecocq de Boisbaudran. Here, Rodin met some of the artists who would go on to define this period, including James McNeill Whistler, Henri Fantin-Latour, and Alphonse Legros, and was lucky enough to have a few lessons with Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, who taught modelling there. The teaching at the Petite École was thoroughly steeped in the artistic methods of the 18th century, and this had a powerful influence on Rodin - not only on his spirit, which remained emotionally attached to this period, but also on his technique, in which both the art of relief and a love of soft forms would predominate. He took to art with an extraordinary determination, painting, modelling, and, above all, drawing - not only at the École but also in the Louvre, the Bibliothèque, the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle (where he was given some guidance by Antoine-Louis Barye), the horse market, the gardens, and the streets, nurturing a passion for nature and reality. However, although he applied three consecutive times to the École des Beaux-Arts when he was about 18, he was not admitted. His conception of art was already at odds with the aesthetics and methods then current in academic tradition....

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