Auguste Rodin, The Age of Bronze, 1877 Bronze, 181 x 60 x 60 cm. Rodin’s journey towards artistic originality and recognition was slow. He failed three times to be admitted to the most prestigious art school in Paris, the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Rodin was obliged to enter workshops that provided decorative objects and sculpture for buildings: his work appeared under the name of his employer. Rodin completed The Age of Bronze at the age of thirty-six. He had recently travelled to Italy to ‘learn the secrets’ of the great Renaissance masters, particularly Michelangelo. The raised arms and contrapposto pose of The Age of Bronze suggest heroism, while the parted lips and liquidity of the surface suggested the man’s inner life, even a kind of spiritual ecstasy. The statue had no title and no identifying attribute, leaving the critics puzzled and suspicious that he had relied upon moulds from life. Rodin’s friends campaigned on his behalf, persuading the Ministry of Fine Arts to commission a bronze and the Under-Secretary, Edmond Turquet, to award him a prestigious state commission, The Gates of Hell.