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Statue - The Age of Bronze (L'Age d'Airain)
  • The Age of Bronze (L'Age d'Airain)
    Rodin, Auguste, born 1840 - died 1917
  • Enlarge image

The Age of Bronze (L'Age d'Airain)

  • Object:

    Statue

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1876 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rodin, Auguste, born 1840 - died 1917 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze

  • Credit Line:

    Given to the Victoria and Albert Museum by Rodin in 1914

  • Museum number:

    A.33-1914

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, room 21, case FS

This statue brought Rodin to the attention of the public. It is Rodin's earliest full-scale, independently produced statue to have survived. He started work on the figure in 1875, having recently returned from a visit to Italy where he was profoundly influenced by Michelangelo and the works of classical and Renaissance sculptors which he sketched extensively. It owes much to these respected influences, but caused much controversy when the plaster model was first exhibited in 1877. Most wounding to Rodin were repeated accusations, due to the very life-like appearance of the figure, that it had been cast from life, rather than being freely modelled. Criticism was also made of the 'low type' of model chosen, which needed 'a little more nobility in the head, a little less thinness of the lips'. Rodin created the work during the Franco-Prussian war, when he left Paris to live in Belgium. He chose a soldier, Auguste Neyt, as the model, from barracks near to his home in Brussels.
The figure originally held a spear (shown in a drawing by Rodin), and its first title was 'The Vanquished'. When the spear was removed by Rodin soon afterwards, there was much confusion and speculation about the meaning of the statue. Another title given to it was 'The Awakening of Mankind', before it was exhibited as 'The Age of Bronze' in the Paris Salon of 1877.
The figure was cast in bronze in May 1880 and a cast was purchased by the French Government, marking official acceptance of the work. It was set up in the Luxembourg Gardens in 1884. A number of versions have been cast since, from 1890s and into the 20th century.

Physical description

Statue, 'The Age of Bronze' (L'Age d'Airain), bronze.

Place of Origin

France (made)

Date

ca. 1876 (cast)

Artist/maker

Rodin, Auguste, born 1840 - died 1917 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Bronze

Marks and inscriptions

'ALEXIS.RUDIER.FONDEUR.PARIS'
Rodin

Dimensions

Height: 180.3 cm

Object history note

Given by the artist.

Descriptive line

Statue, 'The Age of Bronze' (L'Age d'Airain), bronze, Auguste Rodin, France, about 1876

Labels and date

This is Rodin's first large sculpture. It was influenced by his admiration of Michelangelo, especially his Captive Slaves. When first exhibited in 1877 the untitled plaster caused great controversy as critics assumed it was a life cast. Later its power and anatomical realism were acknowledged. [March 2007]

Subjects depicted

Figures; Men; Nudes

Categories

Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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