Auguste Rodin’s life-size bronze sculpture, The Bronze Age, is a significant masterpiece that depicts the act of awakening. Created in 1875-76, it was his first publicly exhibited figure under his own name. Although Rodin initially encountered critical scandal for the sculpture’s extreme naturalism and ambiguous subject matter, The Bronze Age became one of his most celebrated pieces.
The sculpture symbolizes both heroism and suffering and reflects what many of Rodin’s countrymen went through while fighting in the Franco-Prussian War from 1870 to 1871. Interestingly, the model for this piece was a young Belgian soldier named Auguste Ney.
The Bronze Age portrays a moment of human awakening suspended between joy and suffering. It is considered an excellent example of naturalistic sculpting because of its accurate representation of human anatomy. Initially denied recognition as a work of art due to its naturalistic approach and people’s perception that it was not cast but directly taken from a live model, it eventually received critical acclaim over time.