Bernini’s Influence on Rodin: An Introduction

 By Mary Williams

“Rome is Bernini–he was a fine man, a great sculptor–as great as Michael Angelo, but not as subtle. He made Rome what it is and no one knows it…”
Auguste Rodin[1]

The nineteenth-century sculptor Auguste Rodin pioneered innovative styles of sculpture throughout his career. As an aspiring artist, Rodin’s education consisted of attending the Petite Ecole and studying the works of great masters.[2] Two artists Rodin specifically studied were Michelangelo and Donatello. Scholars acknowledge the influence the Gothic and Renaissance periods had on Rodin’s work; however, few acknowledge that Rodin was influenced by the Baroque. Rodin admired the Baroque artists and discussed their work later in life, but few scholars believe the artists affected Rodin’s early development as a sculptor. [3] While in Italy studying Michelangelo and Donatello, Rodin would have seen the works of Baroque artists such as Gianlorenzo Bernini. The movement and emotion Bernini conveyed with his sculpture is similar to the sculptures Rodin created after his trip to Italy. Although many scholars rejected the influence of Bernini on Rodin because of contemporary art theories and styles, Rodin’s increased use of movement and emotion throughout his sculpture after his first trip to Italy indicates the effect Bernini’s work had on Rodin.

 



[1] As quoted in Judith Cladel, Rodin, trans. James Whitall (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1937) 258.

[2] Judith Cladel, Rodin, trans. James Whitall (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1937) 10-11.

[3] For this research I have consulted numerous biographies on Rodin that all acknowledged the influence of  Renaissance and Gothic artists on his artwork while disregarding the influence of Baroque artists. I specifically address the following well known biographies written by Judith Cladel and Albert Elsen. Judith Cladel, Rodin, trans. James Whitall (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1937). Albert Elsen, Rodin (NY: Museum of Modern Art, 1963).