Rodin created the Thinker sculpture in the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1880. Auguste Rodin was a French sculptor who was born on November 12th, 1840, and died on November 17th, 1917. He is regarded as a forefather of contemporary sculptors and has always treated his art with a craftsman’s eye. Despite his great efforts in craftsmanship, most of his sculptures received a lot of backlash from community members because they were considered to be somewhat distinct from the then-traditionally known sculptures. The Thinker is one of Rodin’s most well-known works of art. He was highly influenced by Dante a then poet and philosopher and the sculpture was initially intended to be Dante’s representation. Rodin curved the Le Penseur (The Thinker) sculpture in a manner that represents a man who seems lost in thoughts, hence, denoting someone who is silently contemplating over something, which makes it philosophical representation.

Figure 1: The Thinker by Auguste Rodin. Image Location

Iconographic Description

The sculpture is made of bronze, which gives it a metallic brown color. The sculpture is approximated to be seventy centimeters long and is made of bronze. The sculpture indicates a nude man seated on a rock while holding his chin with one hand; the man seems to be in deep thoughts, hence, the reason the sculpture is deemed as a philosophical representation. Initially, the sculpture was to be situated on the top of the doorjamb of the Museum of the Decorative Arts. Unfortunately the museum was never built. The sculpture was, however, removed from the doors together with the other sculptures, which were protruding in 1900 after the doors had been displayed. Later, it was situated outside Pantheon in Paris where it was removed in 1922 as it was deemed as an obstacle to the public events. Also, it is also argued that the sculpture had presumed a socialist connotation, which also influenced its removal from Pantheon, Paris. Currently, the sculpture is situated on its pedestal, which is in the exterior garden of the museum. However, there also exist several versions of the sculpture that are located on the Rodin’s and Rose Rodin’s graves.

Through the use of technology, which has made scanning possible, the Baltimore Museum has scanned The Thinker sculpture to make sure that the societal members can view it from a different perception. The 3D replica of the sculpture is openly displayed to the societal members at the BMA, and it is located on the staircase of the BMA.

Figure 2: The 3D replica of The Thinker at the staircase of the BMA. Image Location

Historical Content

It was at first known as The Poet, which is Le Poete in French. It was a figure that was started in the late 19th Century at The Gates of Hell and some critics thought it was meant to represent Dante Alighieri. Dante was a poet in ancient Italy who featured in Renaissance poetry. Dante was a highly influential person in Italy and was endeared by a lot of people including the government officials. Unfortunately, he fell out of terms with the then ruling authorities in 1302 and was sent to exile. The critics could have assumed this citing that he could have been thinking about a poem he had written about heaven, hell and ultimately the designate of man. However, this changed later when Rodin decided to have a broader explanation for his sculpture and not refer to Dante as had been perceived. He wanted it to look like a man seated as he contemplates what to do (Blachetiere & Thurrowgoo, 1). This was achieved when he finalized on the final touches of this new version in 1903. It turned out to be far stretched than previously as it now brought out the likeness of people’s leader who is about to get up (rise) and play.

Impact Of His Gesture

The thinker had had an influence on people from when it was created till now. However, its popularity was greater when Rodin polished the original. The thinker has been incorporated in several areas over time especially in the culture of pop. When one looks at the sculpture, you tend to wonder what is ‘running’ in The Thinker’s mind. The way one hand rests on his lap while he supports his head with the other hand creates the impression of a person who is sank into meditation. His brow is creased; a characteristic of one lost in thinking. Wilkins Gordon in an article by Peabody Essex Museum quotes an 1889 news article by Truman where he argued that the sculpture had a piercing effect: like a bird of prey (Wilkins, 1). It seems the sculpture affects one’s opinion based on how you explain its look. What is undoubtedly agreed on is that this is a man deep in thoughts.

Henceforth, the portrait should be interpreted from a philosophical perception. It is a clear representation of an unseen character trait of human beings, the potential to ponder on the daily occurrences of life. The Thinker clearly demonstrates the need for an individual to contemplate and, thus, make up his/her mind about the issues that might be affecting him/her. In addition, the sculpture represents the image of a man who is bruised and is facing challenges in life, thus, the illustration of a tortured body and a damned soul.


The Thinker sculpture idea was conceived in 1880, which was his idea of making a representation of Dante, which was to be placed on The Gates of Hell. Initially, The Thinker was referred to as Le Poete (which means The Poet), which was used to refer to Dante – a renowned Italian philosopher and poet. This serves as the major reason why the sculpture was interpreted as The Poet and later came to be interpreted from a philosophical point of view. The representation of a tortured man with a damned soul signifies the tribulations an individual undergoes in life, which makes one feel down-spirited. Therefore, societal members can easily relate their predicaments in life with the sculpture and, hence, a major reason why the sculpture is widely recognized all over the globe. As illustrated by the man, seated on the rock while pondering, the sculpture denotes the need for an individual to have set aside some time to ponder over the daily occurrences of life. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that The Thinker sculpture represents a man who seems lost in thoughts, hence, denoting someone who is silently contemplating over something, which makes it philosophical representation.

Works Cited

Blanchetiere, Francois., Thurrowgood, David. “Two Insights Into Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker’”. National Gallery of Victoria, 2013, Accessed on 2/5/2017

Wilkins, Gordon. “Thinking about “The Thinker’”. Peabody Essex Museum, 2016, Accessed on 2/5/2017

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