The National Museum of Western Art

update 12 November 2014

on display Forecourt

Auguste Rodin [Paris, 1840 - Meudon, 1917]

The Gates of Hell

Datec. 1880-90/1917 (model), 1930-33 (cast)
Materials/Techniquesbronze
Size (cm)540 x 390 x 100
Credit LineMatsukata Collection
CategorySculptures
Collection NumberS.1959-0045
The Gates of Hell
Photo by (c) Norihiro Ueno Enlarge

In 1880 Rodin was commissioned by the government to create a set of doors for the entrance of the newly planned construction of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. A fervent reader of Dante, Rodin had already created a group work in 1876 entitled Ugolino and his Sons based on the Divine Comedy, and without hesitation, he decided to create a series of "low reliefs depicting the Divine Comedy" for the doors. He immediately began from work on the project, basing his compositional forms on Ghiberti's Gates of Heaven on the Baptistry in Florence. In his first preparatory sketches, Rodin divided the right and left doors into four vertically arranged panels with scenes from "Hell" shown in low relief over the eight panels with a giant figure placed in the center. However he lost Dante's mythical order and it descended into a chaotic world. Rather than Dante's world, he has entered the Hell found in man's mind, expressed in Baudelaire's poetry, Les Fleurs du Mal. The third stage of the 3-D clay model, which became the gate's final composition, can be seen in the colored plaster cast model. Both the content and the compositional forms have been transformed into chaos in this final version, which generally represents the forms of the completed bronze work. For the rest of his life Rodin was involved in the creation of this work, and he created numerous works which are independent from The Gates of Hell. The man sitting on the center of the tympanum staring down at the figures descending to hell is The Thinker, and The Three Shades standing on top of The Gatse are closely related to the form of Adam. Meditation and Standing Fauness on the right edge of the tympanum and Orpheus and the Maenads stand on the left hand. In the lower part of the right door, Fugit Amor, and in the center of the left door Nereides. The relief on the left attached pillar La Belle Heaulmière and above that pillar Fallen Caryatid. The relief carving I am Beautiful is placed on the upper part of the attached pillar on the right and on the left of The Thinker, the male and female figures separated as Crouching Woman and the man with his body bent back from the upper part of the left door. This large monument was never actually used and it was not cast in bronze during Rodin's lifetime. The Gates were finally cast in the 1920s, and including recent casts, there are now seven Gates in bronze throughout the world. The first two bronzes were cast under commission by Kojiro Matsukata. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no.129)

Provenance

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

Exhibition History

1960
The Masterpieces of the Ex-Matsukata Collection, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 14 May 1960 - 10 July 1960, S-45
1966
Rodin, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 23 July 1966 - 11 September 1966, cat. no. 12
1989
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. 1
2000
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. 3
2006
August Rodin / Eugène Carrière, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 7 March 2006 - 4 June 2006, cat. no. 69
2012
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. 65

Bibliography

1890
Mabilleau, Léopold. Le Salon du Champ de Mars. Gazette des Beaux-Arts. vol. 4, ser. 3, 1890, pp. 474-493.
1900
Geffroy, Gustave. Auguste Rodin et son œuvre. La Plume, 1900, p. 36.
1900
Fontainas, André, Revue de mois, art moderne. Mercure de France. Vol. 35, Juillet 1900, pp 268-270.
1901
Mauclair, Camille. The Decorative Sculpture of Auguste Rodin. The International Monthly. London, Februay 1901, pp. 176-177.
1918
Morey, Charles Rufus. The Art of Auguste Rodin. Art Bulletin. No. 4, September 1918 , pp. 149-150.
1924
Bénédite, Léonce. Le Musée Rodin: Catalogue sommaire des œuvres d'Auguste Rodin et autres œuvres d'art de la donation Rodin. Paris, 1924, no. 256.
1935
Roger-Marx, Claude. Le tableau de salon. Avant la destruction d'un Monde. 1935, p. 180.
1937
Bourdelle, Antoine. La sculpture et Rodin. Emile-Paul, 1937, pp. 141-144.
1960
Elsen, Albert E. Rodin's Gate of Hell. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1960
1965
Elsen, Albert. Auguste Rodin: Reading on his Life and Work. New Jersey, Prentice-Hall; Englewood Cliffs, 1965 , pp. 66-80.
1966
Sutton, Denys. Triumphant Satyr: The World of Auguste Rodin. New York, Hawthorn Books, 1966, no. 15.
1967
Champigneulle, Bernard. Rodin. London, Thames and Hadson, 1967, pp. 127-149.
1967
Descharnes, Robert. Auguste Rodin. Paris, Edita Lausanne, 1967, pp. 68-105.
1969
Jianou, lonel; Goldscheider, C. Rodin. Paris, Arted Editions d'Art, 1969, p. 87, no. 12.
1976
Tancock, John L. The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1976, no. 1.
1977
De Caso; Jacques et Patricia Sanders. Rodin's sculpture: A Critical Study of the Spreckels collection. San Francisco, The Fine Arts Museum, 1977, pp. 121-129.
1980
Elsen, Albert E. In Rodin's Studio: A Photographic Record of Sculpture in the Making. Oxford, Phaidon, 1980, p. 164, no. 18.
1981
Elsen, Albert E. "The Gates of Hell: What they are about and something of their history". Rodin Rediscovered (exh. cat.). Washington, National Gallery of Art, 1981, pp. 63-79.
1983
Schmoll-Eisenwerth J. A. Rodin-Studien. Munich, Prestel-Verlag, 1983, pp. 215-232.
1986
Lampert, Catherine. Rodin Sculpture and Drawing. London, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1986, pp. 43-182.
1987
Facos, Michelle; Ambrosini, Lynne. Rodin: The Cantor Gift to the Brooklyn Museum. New York, The Brooklyn Museum, 1987, pp. 60-93.
1988
Rodin: Selected Works from The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. The National Museum of Western Art ed. Kurayoshi Museum, 1988, nos. 12-23.
1989
Rodin et la Porte de l'Enfer (exh. cat.). The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 1989
1990
The Old Matsukata Collection. Kobe City Museum, ed. Kobe, "Matsukata Korekushon Ten" Jikkoiinkai, 1990, cat. no. S-59.
1991
Auguste Rodin: Das Höllentor: Zeichnungen und Plastik (exh. cat.). München, Prestel-Verlag, 1991
1993
Butler, Ruth. Rodin: The Shape of Genius. New Heaven/ London, Yale University Press, 1993, pp. 141-149, 151-157, 214-225.
1993
Martinez, Rose-Marie. Rodin: L'artiste face à l'état. Nouvelles éditions Séguier, 1993, pp. 174-176.
1994
Elsen, Albert E. "The Mondernity of Rodin's Gate of Hell". Symposium: The Modernity of Rodin. Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, 1994 , pp. 136-142.
1994
Levkoff, Mary L. Rodin in his Time. Los Angeles, Museum Associates; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1994, pp. 54-57.
1994
A.Rodin Wing. Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, 1994, pp. 68-75.
1996
Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette. Rodin: le musée et ses collections. Paris, Éditions Scala; Musée Rodin, 1996, pp. 33-43.
1997
Rodin and Michelangelo: A Study in Artistic Inspiration. Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1997, pp. 44-47, 60-67, 212-215.
1999
Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette. Rodin: La Porte de l'Enfer. Paris, Musée Rodin, 1999
2001
Rodin Sculpture and Drawings (exh. cat.). Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, 2001, pp. 26-41.
2001
Rodin en 1900: l'exposition de l'alma (exh. cat.). Musée du Luxembourg, 12 March - 15 July 2001, Paris, Réunion des musées nationaux, 2001, no. 81.
2001
Audeh, Aida. "Rodin's Gates of Hell: Sculptural illustration od Dante's Divine Comedy". Rodin A Magnificent Obsession. Ross, Iain; Snow, Anthea eds. London, Merrell, 2001, pp. 93-126.
2002
Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette. Rodin: La porte de l'enfer. Paris, Editions du musée Rodin, 2002
2003
Elsen, Albert. Rodin's Art: The Rodin Collection of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. Barryte, Bernard ed. New York, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 40-53, 155-174, no. 37.
2004
Mitchell, Claudine. Rodin: The Zola of Sculpture. Aldershot, Ashgate Publishing, 2004, pp. 24-28, 73-94.
2005
Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette. "Jigoku no Mon: Rodin no Raifuwaku". Le parcours d'un génie. Kyoto, Tankosya, 2005, pp. 114-128.
2005
Le parcours d'un génie. Kyoto, Tankosya, 2005, pp. 354-355, no. 18.
2013
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 129, col. repr.

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