Marking the 100th Anniversary of Rodin’s Death

  • December 5, 2017
  • vol 64 issue 15
  • Bulletins
  • print

2017 is the 100th anniversary of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s death. 

Jean D’Aire (at left), the bronze made in 1889 by Rodin (French, 1840–1917) is in the Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall Atrium. Jeffrey Loria donated this sculpture to Penn in 1983 while his daughter was a student at the University. The following year it was stolen but then recovered by the FBI and was subsequently returned to Penn where it has been located for more than three decades.

Rodin is an impressive figure in art. His work The Thinker is among the most recognized works in all of sculpture and his The Gates of Hell and Burghers of Calais are esteemed for their detail and mastery. 

As a young artist, Rodin was refused entrance to the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts. He therefore went on to work as an apprentice and partner for a number of artists before his own commissions propelled him to international success. 

Jean D’Aire is a three-foot nude study for part of Rodin’s six-sculpture masterpiece, Burghers of Calais. The full Jean D’Aire figure in Burghers of Calais depicts a gaunt man with clenched fists and a stoic jaw who, along with five other citizens, walks to his execution. The six French city leaders had offered themselves hostages to England’s King Edward in exchange for the ceasing of the siege on their city; they were spared at the request of the King’s pregnant wife.