The work of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin provided the foundation of modern sculpture. Rodin overcame the 19th-century academic visual idiom in this medium and exercised a formative influence on the style of countless artists. He played an essential role in the development of modern sculpture – comparable to that of Paul Cézanne in painting. In his youth, Auguste Rodin studied at Paris’s “École Spéciale de Dessin et des Mathématiques”, the so-called “Petite École” for applied art; he failed in his multiple attempts to gain acceptance to the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1864 he began to work for the sculptor Albert Carrier-Belleuse, whom he also accompanied to Brussels in 1871 to work on a large commission; Rodin gathered essential experience in Belgium, and only in 1877/78 did he return permanently to Paris. In 1875/76, during a journey through Italy, Rodin became familiar with the works of Michelangelo, which made a deep impression on him and whose influence is directly apparent in one of the artist’s first independent works, “The Age of Bronze”. In 1880 he began to work on the creation of the monumental “Porte de l’enfer”, the “Gates of Hell”, which was inspired by Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and whose cosmos of figures would occupy him until the end of his life. In the following year, Rodin received the commission for his most famous work, the “Bourgeois de Calais” (the “Burghers of Calais”). By depicting the historical figures of the town council of Calais as individuals marked by their fate and by loosely grouping them together in a monument without a pedestal of any kind – as over-life-sized figures at viewers’ eye level – Rodin achieved an enormous degree of modernity, which met with the resistance of his patrons. Another work that led to bitter controversy was the Balzac monument that he created in 1891. In 1895 Rodin purchased a villa in Meudon, which – like the Parisian Hôtel Biron that he would move into in 1908 – developed into a meeting place not only for artists, writers, art lovers and collectors, but also for the international high society of the time. The fame and extraordinary popularity of the artist rested not least on the Rodin pavilion of the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris: Rodin himself had initiated and designed the exhibition project in order to present his work. In 1919, after the artist’s death, the Rodin Museum was opened in Paris’s Hôtel Biron; Rodin had named the French state as heir to his artistic estate. The oeuvre of Rodin also includes numerous works on paper, particularly watercolours, and is characterised by a concentration on the essence of its subjects and an expressive vitality of form. Details of the motifs are suppressed in order to give visual form to emotional, conceptual and aesthetic aspects; in the process, the incomplete and the fragmentary become stylistic means sui generis. Rodin had an immense influence, both as an individual and through his work, on his contemporaries among his fellow artists and upon the younger generation of sculptors. In particular, the works of the sculptor Camille Claudel, who was for a time the student and lover of the great artist, are closely related to the works of Rodin – and in a manner that can be described as tragic. Claudel is also said to have inspired Rodin to create some of his most expressive works.