The Age of Bronze Analysis
- Alternative Names:
- The Vanquished, The Bronze Age
- Date of Creation:
- Height (cm):
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- Art Movement:
- Created By:
- Current Location:
- Paris, France
- Displayed at:
- Musee dÓrsay
- Musee dÓrsay
As one of Auguste Rodin's first solo pieces and his first to be exhibited at the Salon in Paris, The Age of Bronze highlights the artist's natural ability to capture the character of his models and to portray movement and feeling in his sculptures.
Rodin's original design for The Age of Bronze was to capture the demoralization of the soldiers who fought in the Franco-Prussian War from July 1870 to May 1871. The original title for this work, The Vanquished or Le Vaincu was more relevant to Rodin's original meaning for the work than the second title, The Age of Bronze, which was awarded after the accusation that Rodin made cast of a model rather than carved by hand. Some critics also described The Vanquished as being anti-French and criticizing the government for its decision to go to war. This was something Rodin was keen to escape from as he looked for commissions from the French Government.
The Age of Bronze
The pose of the figure and his raised arm are heroic and this contrasts well with the face which portrays a sense of spirituality, which some critics even describe as 'ecstasy'.
The protruding hip serves to add motion to this sculpture and Rodin thought that this was vital in creating this piece as a classic piece of sculpture. The artist said: "It is the leaning of the figure that makes it appear to the real observer as moving. "
This work of art was inspired by classical sculpture but it was modeled more naturally and lacks the exaggerated musculature used by Greek and Roman sculptors.
Rodin originally had a staff in his composition and by removing he not only added a more modern take on a classic form, but also created movement in what could have been an otherwise static composition.
Rodin worked on the nude for a total of 18 months. During this time he embarked on a trip to Italy in February and March 1876 where he admired the work of Michelangelo. In a burst of enthusiasm, upon returning to Brussels, Rodin finished the sculpture and presented it at the Cercle Artistique in 1877.
As with many of Rodin's influences for this piece, artists such as
Paul Dubois, Mercié, Falguière and Delaplanche, also tried to create realism by the use of supple modeling. Rodin is famous for his abilities with clay and even during the early stages of his career he possessed the ability to manipulate clay in a way which allowed the bronze cast to also look supple and lucid.
The Age of Bronze
It is in the mood of this piece that the viewer gets a glimpse of Rodin, the innovator. Unlike many of the artists of his day Rodin chose to abandon the symbolism popular in 19th century sculpture and instead focused on what the rendering of the body and face of his sculpture could capture.
Rodin once recounted the way in which he chose models, in this case for "St. John the Baptist Preaching", and noted that he also chose his model for "The Age of Bronze, Auguste Neyt, in a similar way: "One morning there was a knock at the door of my studio door. It was an Italian. I was struck with admiration... I immediately thought of Saint John the Baptist, that is to say, a man of nature, a visionary, a believer, a precursor come to announce someone greater than himself".
For The Age of Bronze, Auguste Rodin decided not to use a professional model, who would have offered more conventional poses, but instead a Belgian solider by the name of Auguste Neyt. Neyt was 22 and had survived the Franco-Prussian War. It's clear that Rodin wanted to use Neyt's experience to draw a realistic portrayed of a solider, using the model's personality to create a certain mood and emotion. Neyt himself understood saying of Rodin, "What he wanted was a natural attitude, as realistic as life".
Rodin created The Age of Bronze in life-size and the piece was so realistic that many critics believed it had been cast straight from the model, a great artistic faux pas during Rodin's lifetime. It was important for Rodin to produce a piece that was realistic as he despised the sentimental idealism that dominated other sculpture of the period. In order to do this Rodin modeled the piece so that it can be looked at from every angle and be viewed as if it was the model himself.
The Age of Bronze
Movement was one of the most memorable characteristics of the work of Auguste Rodin and one which can be demonstrated in The Age of Bronze. Rodin chose the pose for this piece based on classical sculpture from Rome where young men were often rendered holding a staff. It's thought that Rodin sketched his models many times before starting his modeling and he often asked them to move while he was sketching them in order to understand the realistic way in which the human body moved.