Auguste Rodin’s The Shade is a bronze sculpture created in 1880. Originally intended as part of The Gates of Hell, a large-scale work featuring three figures, the sculpture exemplifies Rodin’s expressive rendering of the male nude body. The downward thrust of their left arms and their heads convey despair, which makes it an iconic piece in the art world.
The Shade was modeled between 1881 and 1886, and cast in 1969. Rodin made several studies of Shades before creating this particular sculpture by assembling three identical figures that seem to be circling each other. This sets it apart from other sculptures at that time that focused more on symmetry.
Rodin created the artwork in the Impressionism style and was known for his focus on patination – finishing – rather than just sculpting. The final version shows impeccable attention to detail, especially with its lifelike wrinkles and muscles structure that add to its emotional depth.