The Shadow

Information sur l’artiste

Date de l’œuvre libre
Auguste Rodin,
L'Ombre, 1902-1904.
Image © Lyon MBA – Photo RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda

The Inferno, a poem written in the 14th century by Dante Alighieri, recounts the poet's journey as he is led by Latin author Virgil through nine circles of hell, where he meets the damned. This founding text of Italian literature fascinated 19th century artists, and Rodin in particular, for whom it became a guiding source of inspiration for his work.


The piece portrays Adam, one of the damned, and was originally designed on a smaller scale: three models were to be placed at the top of the Gates of Hell, a major work commissioned by the French government and intended to decorate the entrance of a museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. A few years later, Rodin decided to present it as a piece on its own, exhibiting a larger-than-life plaster model. The museum acquired a bronze copy of this model in 1905.


The artist has intentionally left this sculpture without hands. Leaving the work unfinished in this way is an innovation typical of Rodin's work: rather than aiming to create realistic representations, he placed the emphasis on expressiveness. However, fearful that people would misinterpret the amputated form, the sculptor decided to add hands to all of the bronze copies made after this model, only witness nowadays of the form of the artwork originally created by Rodin.

Artwork label
Description de l’œuvre

H. 192; L. 52; D. 103 cm
Purchased from the artist in 1905
Inv. H 743