Artist: Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon)
Date: modeled 1880 or 1881, cast 1910
Culture: French, Paris
Dimensions: Overall (confirmed): H. 76 3/8 x W. 30 3/8 x D. 32 1/2 in. (194 x 77.2 x 82.6 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Thomas F. Ryan, 1910
Accession Number: 11.173.1
Rodin was strongly influenced by the work of Michelangelo. The direct experience of the Renaissance master's art, both in the course of his Italian travels in 1875- 76 and in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, seems to have unlocked for Rodin many of the secrets of Michelangelo's modeling. Here they are used to convey the inner anguish and riveted concentration of a powerful, but immobilized being.
Rodin's debt to Michelangelo goes even further, for in the contorted, uncomfortable pose of Adam, it has been recognized that Rodin incorporated the actual gestures of the figures in two of Michelangelo's works: the right arm alludes to The Creation of Adam, the Sistine Chapel fresco in the Vatican; the left is borrowed from the dead Christ of the Pietà in the Cathedral of Florence. In the words of the Rodin scholar Albert Elsen "the figure is framed by the beginning and end of life, between (these), his body shows its tortured existence."