Rodin’s Gates of Hell

The Gates of Hell, Auguste Rodin, photo by J.W. Kern
The Gates of Hell was an ambitious and astonishing work by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin that was never realized in his lifetime.

The sculpture exists in two versions, one of which was cast in bronze posthumously from reconstructed plaster casts. The work stands almost 30 feet (6m) high and 12 feet (4m) wide, with over 180 figures representing themes from Dante Alighieri’s Devine Comedy.

The sculpture contains many figures and sets of figures that were eventually developed into independent works by Rodin, including his famous The Thinker. Rodin worked on the doors off and on for 37 years, never actually finishing the work.

There is a video here that discusses the the work and the two different versions created by Rodin.

There are three original bronze casts, at the Musée Rodin in Paris, the Rodin Museum here in Philadelphia and the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

Three more were subsequently cast by the Musée Rodin, and are in Zurich, Seoul, Korea and Stanford University in California.

Microbiologist and photographer J.W. Kern has taken a rather remarkable high-resolution (112 megapixel) photograph of the Stanford casting and made it available on Flickr (click on “Original” for the high-res version, which is 18mb). Here is Kern’s article about the sculpture and the photo.

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