Mind Over Matter: A Casting of "The Thinker" Fetches for $11M - Arts & Culture

This artwork puts the sum in “cogito, ergo sum.”

An early cast of Auguste Rodin’s “Le Penseur” (The Thinker) has auctioned for 10.73 million euros ($11.14 milion) in Paris.

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Christie’s, which sold the lot in its 20th/21st-century London-Paris auction series, had initially estimated it to fetch between 10 million to 14 million euros.

The standing record for “The Thinker” consequently remains at $15.3 million during a 2013 Sotheby’s auction in New York.

Rodin conceived the figure as part of “La Porte de l’Enfer” (The Gates of Hell), a pair of monumental doors representing a scene from Dante’s Inferno. He had been working on this project for 37 years until his death.

The French sculptor originally intended “The Thinker” to represent Dante contemplating his oeuvre. He would later opt for the figure to be more universal to encompass the image of a creator.

“La Porte de l’Enfer” (The Gates of Hell)


The Musée Rodin recorded 17 bronze casts of “The Thinker” at its original scale produced during Rodin’s lifetime. On top of this, 17 bronzes at the same scale would come between 1919 and 1945, along with a final nine between 1954 and 1969.

“Le Penseur” (The Thinker)

“[Rodin] stipulated that casts could be made to fulfill public demand to ensure his works could be collected,” Christie’s France international director of impressionist and modern art Anika Guntrum said.

In fact, no more than ten from the first two editions of casts remain in private hands.

“You have to be able to stoke desire to keep interest alive. Otherwise, it just fades away and collectors move on to other artists. Rodin was wise enough to know that scarcity can kill a market. But today most collectors can only dream about owning a work like ‘The Thinker,’” Guntrum concluded.

Photos by Christie’s via website

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