The Gates of Hell, a monumental portal for a projected Musée des Arts Décoratifs to be built on the site of what is now the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, was Rodin's first commission from the French government. In a letter to the Ministry of Fine Arts dated October 20, 1881, Rodin wrote: "…this door will be 4m 50 by 3m 50 in size, and comprise, besides bas reliefs, many figures almost in the round. In addition, two colossal figures will stand at either side of the gate…" A sketchbook in the Musée Rodin in Paris contains a study for The Gates flanked by standing figures. The two figures were not original to Rodin's plan, and they vanished quite early in its evolution, but they survive in the form of the larger than life-sized Adam and Eve. Their meaning is evident from their original context: on one side, Adam, the first man, slowly and with difficulty roused to life; on the other, Eve, in her shame, the source of mankind's fall from grace.
Signature: Signed: A. Rodin
Thomas Fortune Ryan , New York (until 1911; purchased for MMA)