Collection Online

The thinker
(Le Penseur)

71.4 × 59.9 × 42.2 cm
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
International Sculpture
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1921
Gallery location
Late 19th & early 20th Century Paintings & Decorative Arts Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

The thinker was a principal element in Rodin’s Gates of Hell, the monumental project that derived from his 1880 commission from the French government for a pair of bronze doors for a new museum of decorative arts. Rodin initially intended to portray Dante, the fourteenth century Florentine author of The Divine Comedy, an idea that eventually metamorphosed, however, into the more universal image of a creative genius – naked, and lost in thought.

This version of The thinker is Rodin’s very first bronze casting of his much loved and admired sculpture. It was acquired by the NGV from the collection of one of Rodin’s earliest patrons, Constantine Ionides. He bought it from Rodin long before the artist achieved wide recognition. A recent conservation treatment has revealed that the coloured patina applied to the bronze is original to the work and is how Rodin intended it to look. The survival of an original finish is very rare for a nineteenth century bronze.