The Martyr

Auguste Rodin French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 548

The Martyr was originally a standing figure on the lintel of The Gates of Hell. Rodin enlarged it, placed it in a supine position, giving the limbs a convulsive appearance, and heightened the tension by omitting a base and forcing the head and left arm of the figure to hang over the edge of any support provided. Rodin depicts the young woman posed in an attitude of death: her supine body twisted, legs crumpled, head thrown back, and arms outflung. Splayed upon an altar-shaped pedestal, she becomes a symbolic martyr to humanity’s shared fate. Her youth evokes death’s universality, her nakedness its indifference, and her isolation the loneliness of the final struggle.

The Martyr, Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon), Bronze, French

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