The Gates of Hell (1880-1917) by Auguste Rodin

The Gates of Hell - Auguste Rodin - 1885 - 1917

Artwork Information

TitleThe Gates of Hell
ArtistAuguste Rodin
Date1885 - 1917
Dimensions18 x 12 ft.
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationKunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
Location Created France

About The Gates of Hell

“The Gates of Hell” is an arresting bronze sculpture created by the renowned French artist Auguste Rodin. Conceived in the period from 1885 to 1917, the artwork exhibits the distinctive style of the Impressionism movement, though Rodin is often associated more specifically with modern sculpture than with Impressionism. This substantial piece, which measures 18 feet in height and 12 feet in width, can be found at the Kunsthaus Zürich in Zürich, Switzerland. The sculpture was created in France, and its genre-defining presence continues to influence admirers and artists alike.

The artwork itself is an elaborate and intensely detailed portal that appears to teem with life, despite its somber inspiration drawn from Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno,” part of the “Divine Comedy.” The tormented figures that swarm the gates are depicted in various states of anguish and despair, evoking emotional responses from viewers as they contemplate the human condition and themes of eternal damnation. The centerpiece prominently features three shades, known from the aforementioned literary work, who introduce the layers of Hell. Above the central doors is a group of figures, with the iconic ‘The Thinker’ poised thoughtfully above the tumult, representing Dante in a contemplative state, pondering the weighty scenes below him. Surrounding these key elements are scores of individuals, each caught in their own moment of extreme emotion, their forms twisting and writhing in the claustrophobic space.

As one studies the artwork, the depth of Rodin’s skill becomes apparent through the raw expressiveness captured in bronze — a medium traditionally associated with permanence and stolidity, here animated into a dynamic tableau of human suffering and poetic allegory.

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