H. de Roos - Rodin´s Approach to Art

9. The Gates of hell 

Struggle also is the theme of Rodin´s major work, The Gates of Hell. This work was conceived as a monumental door for a Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris that should be erected on the Cour des Comptes, ravaged in 1871. By decree of 16 August 1880, the Directorate of Fine Arts commissioned Rodin, who suggested the decorations should be based on Dante´s Divina Commedia. During his visit to Italy, he had seen Ghiberti´s Gate of Paradise in Florence; his own door should become its counterpart. Later, Rodin decided to divide the door into various sections or leafs after the example of Michelangelo's Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.

The Gates feature the fate of Francesca, the daughter of Guido da Polenta, who had fallen in love with Paolo Malatesta, the younger brother of her husband Gianciotto, Lord of Rimini. Caught and stabbed by Francesca´s jealous spouse, the couple is sent to Hell and dwells among a whole range of other sinners, squirming and writhing in anguish. 



Gates of Hell, maquette,
1880/81, bronze, 
     cast Nr. II/IV, 1992, 
109,8 x 73,7 x 28,5 cm, 
Kunsthalle Mannheim


Gates of Hell, plaster, Musée d´Orsay
Photo: William Allen. Click image to enlarge it! 

The 1880 maquette already shows the asymmetric design, in which the straight outlines are intercepted by human forms.

Later, The Shades were placed on top of the door. In front of the tympanum sat The Thinker, also called The Poet, representing Dante himself. The various figures and groups were modelled separately, then mounted on a wooden frame in 1882, to preview the total composition. The bronze cast was commissioned on 20 August 1885, but the plaster model that Rodin showed to some confidants did not satisfy himself, and he started to change the order of the groups again. Especially The Kiss was removed and became an independent work. 




Advanced Search and Search Rules

Advanced Search & Search Rules

Terms of Use  Copyright Policy    Menu missing?  Back one page  Reload this page   Top of this page 

Notice: Museum logos appear only as buttons linking to Museum Websites and do not imply any
formal approval of RODIN-WEB pages by these institutions. For details see Copyright Policy.
© Copyright 1992 - September 2003 for data collection & design by Hans de Roos - All Rights Reserved.
Last update of this page: 17.09.2003