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Image of The Prodigal Son

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The Prodigal Son

Auguste Rodin (AKA François-Auguste-René Rodin), French, (November 12, 1840–November 17, 1917)

Creation date: 1905 (cast 1942-45)
Creation place: France

Other Information

Type: Bronze Sculpture
Medium and Support: Bronze
Credit Line: Museum Purchase through the Earle W. Grant Acquisition Fund
Accession Number: 1975.73
Dimensions: 54 1/2 in. x 41 in. x 29 in. (138.43 cm x 104.14 cm x 73.66 cm)
Currently on view


Matton, Grandris, Rhône, France ( - 1975)

Feingarten Galleries, Beverly Hills, California (1975 - October 10, 1975)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (October 10, 1975 - )

Label Copy

Sculpture, Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego, 1977.
Rodin returned to the scultpure of the Greeks not to copy the figures but to rediscover their methods. He did not wish to show mere anatomy but to show nature and put the breath of life into his work. "Age of Bronze", 1877, was so lifelike a scandal followed its appearance, critics claiming it to be a casting from life. Based on Dante's poem, the figures for his "Gates of Hell" for the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, enlarged and isolated served as his subject matter for many future works. "Prodigal Son" is one of these. "Polypheme," a cyclops (often depicted with two eyes) was blinded by Ulysses. The malleability of the clay and the marks of Rodin's hands on the clay are transferred to the bronze.

San Diego Museum of Art
May S. Marcy Sculpture Court and Garden brochure, c. 1978
It took the genius of Auguste Rodin to overcome the profound and numerous obstacles, that confronted the modern sculptor. In the fourth quarter of the nineteeth century, almost single-handedly, Rodin reinstated scultpure as a serious enterprise and re-established its eminence after generations of relative neglect. Rodin takes his place as the first significant modernist sculptor, in the sense of breaking with accepted traditions of the past and creating forms more in tune with the temper of the age. Rodin's most fundamental contribution to modern scultpure was to make it the vehicle for his personal interpretation of both nature and art. His uninhibitied modeling of "lumps and hollows" to define forms made Rodins's art distinctive even when the artist seemed preoccupied with psychological realism; he breathed new life into the art of sculpture.
Last Updated: 12/9/2020


This object was included in the following exhibitions:

Sculpture, Fine Arts Gallery, San Diego , 1/1/1977 - 4/1/1977

San Diego Museum of Art: May S. Marcy Sculpture Court and Garden , 1/1/1978 - 00/00/00

Art of the Open Air The San Diego Museum of Art , 2/11/2016 - 00/00/00


Maker's, On reverse:

Signature, On base:

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