Rodin's Bronze Awakening in London: Charlie Cottrell Previews the Result of an International Collaboration That Brings the Works of Rodin to the Royal Academy

By Cottrell, Charlie | History Today, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Rodin's Bronze Awakening in London: Charlie Cottrell Previews the Result of an International Collaboration That Brings the Works of Rodin to the Royal Academy


Cottrell, Charlie, History Today


FOR AN ARTIST SO PARISIAN in his flair and attitude, Rodin had a deep and lasting attachment to Britain and it, in return, to him. British patrons championed his work and raised both his profile and his confidence and he celebrated professional successes in Britain before he was recognized as an established artist in France. Examples of his work can be fotmd in England that even his dedicated museum in France, the Musee Rodin, do not have copies of, a matter of contention to this day.

Yet despite this minor tension, the Mused Rodin has come together in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, in London and the Kunsthaus Zurich to produce the first major Rodin exhibition in England for over twenty years.

The Royal Academy of Arts will be the first to house the collection, which draws together more than 200 works from galleries across Europe, many of which have never before been exhibited outside France.

This promises to be a monumental retrospective, both in terms of the scale of the key exhibits and also the international significance of the exhibition theme, which unites drawings and preliminary models of famous full scale pieces, including 'The Kiss' and 'Gates of Hell', to allow visitors to see, for the first time, the development process of this inspirational and innovative artist.

'The Gates of Hell', bronze, by Rodin, c. 1890.

Rodin first came to London in July 1881 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1882. During this period he passed much time at the British Museum where he drew on influences from the Assyrian galleries and the Parthenon friezes held there; the face for his statue of Victor Hugo was developed after studying an example of the Assyrian god Nabu.

Rodin's remarkable talent and creative approach to developing the classical style, won him the attention and patronage of leading figures in London society. Among his champions were William Henry and the collector and president of the Royal Academy Lord Leighton and his English pupils included Auguste 'Pen' Browning, son of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who worked in the studio with Rodin, to learn his modelling method. …

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