Related Sculptures at the Museum
Aside from the Cleveland Museum of Art's large cast of The Thinker, there are several other sculptures in the museum's collection that directly relate to Rodin's plans for the Gates of Hell. The museum owns two smaller versions of The Thinker, 27 inches and 14 inches respectively. There is also the Embracing Couple, which like much of the door's imagery, was inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy. The museum also has several sculptures that may have been studies for the tangled mass of figures that surround the door including Les Dammes and the Fallen Angels.
Rodin as a 19th-Century Sculptor
The mid-19th century sculptor August Rodin was greatly influenced by the expressive and innovative sculpture of the Early and High Renaissance and Mannerism. The work of Michaelangelo (1475-1564), Dontato Bramante (1444-1514), and Lorenzo Ghiberti (1378-1455) were his inspirations, and he sought to create dramatic, refined sculptures patterned after their works.
Commissioned sculptural groups like the Burghers of Calais and the Gates of Hell clearly show Rodin's debt to the Renaissance and his commitment to the expressive qualities of his medium. Rodin clearly influence visual artist who came after him with his expressive style and tactile handling of the clay and wax used to create his initial models.
Rodin was not alone in his experimental handling of the sculptural form. Edgar Degas (1834-1917), in particular, was clearly interested in new and expressive ways to model human and animal motion. There were also a number of decorative artists who called on Rodin's skills as a sculptor for both assistance and inspiration in their own works.