Auguste Rodin’s Le Penseur (The Thinker) is one of the most iconic sculptures in art history. The timeless work has become internationally recognisable as a symbol for the depths of humanity’s intelligence and philosophical genius. This, however, was not always the artist’s intention.
Auguste Rodin initially conceived the sculpture as an integral piece for the tympanum of his monumental work, La Porte de l’Enfer (The Gates of Hell). Inspired by Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Rodin originally called the sculpture, Le Poète (The Poet), and positioned it as an omniscient figure presiding over the tumultuous scenes of judgement and damnation below. Both spectator and participant in Dante’s phantasm of Hell, the sculpture immediately became a powerful and transcendent figure for critics, collectors and enthusiasts alike.