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When The Thinker was conceived in its original size (approx. 70 cm) in 1880 as the crowning achievement of The Gates of Hell, seated on the tympanum, it was given the title The Poet. He represented Dante, author of the Divine Comedy who had inspired The Gates, bent over to observe the circles of hell, meditating on his work. The Thinker was therefore initially both a being with a tortured body, almost a damned soul, and a free-thinking man, determined to transcend his suffering through poetry. The pose of this figure owes much to Carpeaux’s Ugolino (1861) and to the seated portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici carved by Michelangelo (1526-31).
Remaining in place on the monumental Gates of Hell, The Thinker was exhibited individually in 1888, becoming an independent work. The colossal version, enlarged in 1904, proved even more popular: this sculpture of a man lost in thought, but whose powerful body suggests a great capacity for action, has become one of the most celebrated sculptures ever. There are numerous casts worldwide, including the one now in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, a gift to the City of Paris installed outside the Panthéon in 1906, and another in the gardens of Rodin’s house in Meudon, on the sculptor’s tomb and his wife.
A challenging composition for wind orchestra based on several “leidmotifs”, written from the perspective of the thinker, who ponders the different emotions and characters of the leitmotifs before coming to a conclusion, but with an open ending, because after all, the thoughts go on again…