Rodin was born in Paris, November 12, 1840. His father was an
inspector of the Paris Prefecture de Police, and his mother was a
seamstress. Rodin also had a sister, Maria, who was 2 years older
than him. He grew up in the Mouffetard, a working class district of
Paris. He attended the Petit Ecole, or the École Impériale Spéciale
de Dessin et de Mathématiques, which was a school for the decorative
arts. Here, he obtained a foundation in traditional eighteenth
century French art. He also studied under the French sculptor
Antoine-Louis Barye, well known for his animal subjects, and who
informally taught Rodin anatomical structure. Rodin attempted to
enter the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but was denied on all
three attempts. Though he passed the painting exams, he failed to
pass the sculpting exams. Scholars believe this was due to his
sculptures leaning more towards realism and less towards the more
commonly accepted classical style.
then decided to serve in an apprenticeship for many years thereafter.
He was under the employment of Alber Carrier-Belleuse in his studio
at Paris. Rodin followed Albert to Belgium during the Franco-Prussian
War, where he continued on as his assistant. It was here in Belgium
that he partnered with Antoine Van Ransbourgh towards the completion
of stone sculptures, such as the symbolic groups of Asia and Africa
for Brussels Bourse.
his city was in the process of urban renewal, Rodin maintained a
career in decorative arts for many years by working on public
monuments. Grieving for the death of his sister in 1862, Rodin joined
a Catholic order for some time before continuing his pursuit of art.
He completed what he considered to be his first great work by the mid
1860’s titled, “Mask of the Man With the Broken Nose”. Due to
pursuing realism, as opposed to following more classic perceptions of
beauty, it was rejected by the Paris Salon twice. It featured the
simple features of a local handyman.