The National Museum of Western Art

update 20 June 2018

on display Forecourt

Auguste Rodin [Paris, 1840 - Meudon, 1917]

The Thinker (Enlarged)

Date1881-82 (model), 1902-03 (enlarged), 1926 (cast)
Size (cm)186 x 102 x 144
InscriptionsSigned right side of base: A. Rodin; Foundry mark lower right back of base: Alexis Rudier / Fondeur Paris
Credit LineMatsukata Collection
Collection NumberS.1959-0040
The Thinker (Enlarged)
Photo by (c) Norihiro Ueno

Rodin made the following comment about The Thinker. "Dante sat down on the rock in front of the gates and became absorbed in poetic reverie. Behind him were Ugolino, Francesca, Paolo and all the other characters of the Divine Comedy. This plan was never realized. The anguished form of Dante's thin body isolated from the whole was meaningless. Following my initial inspiration, I then thought of another pensive figure. A naked man sits lost in thought on a rock, with both legs drawn up and his fist resting against his teeth. The work inspires a slow consideration of the beautiful thoughts that fill his head. He is not an idle dreamer. Rather, he is a creator." The physical expression and form of The Thinker, like Adam's, reveal the influence of Michelangelo. Figures such as the prophet Jeremiah in the Sistine Chapel ceiling frescos, and Lorenzo de Medici on the Medici tomb in San Lorenzo Chapel come to mind. Another work that exerted a direct influence was Carpeaux's Ugolino (1863). The image of the right elbow resting on the left thigh is surprisingly similar to Carpeaux's work. The work by Carpeaux, however, was actually executed in Rome under the direct influence of Michelangelo. This gigantic bronze figure was enlarged between 1902-04 by Rodin's collaborator Henri Lebossé on the basis of Rodin's model from 1880. The Thinker, set apart from The Gates of Hell, does not depict an individual thinking figure, but rather represents a universal image of mankind. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no. 133)


Kojiro Matsukata; Sequestered by the French Government, 1944; Returned to Japan, 1959.

Exhibition History

The Masterpieces of the Ex-Matsukata Collection, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 14 May 1960 - 10 July 1960, S-40
Rodin, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 23 July 1966 - 11 September 1966, cat. no. 18
Rodin et la Porte de l’Enfer (Rodin and the Gates of Hell), National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 21 October 1989 - 17 December 1989, cat. no. 7
Tanka at the National Museum of Western Art: An Encounter between Poet and Art, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 25 July 2000 - 29 October 2000, cat. no. 1
Traces of Hands: Sculpture and Drawings by Rodin and Bourdelle from the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 3 November 2012 - 27 January 2013, cat. no. 67


The Old Matsukata Collection. Kobe City Museum, ed. Kobe, "Matsukata Korekushon Ten" Jikkoiinkai, 1990, cat. no. S-54.
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 132, col. repr.

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