Rodin – Rilke – Hofmannsthal. Man and His Genius

Film on the exhibition

For more than a hundred years the Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin has presented key works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), like ‘The Thinker’, ‘The Age of Bronze’ and ‘Man and his Thought’. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Rodin’s death, the Alte Nationalgalerie presents a special exhibition that focuses on the bronze figurine ‘Man and his Genius’ which until now has received little attention. The small sculpture, which dates from 1896, shows a winged female genius retreating from a male nude – symbolic of artistic inspiration. The bronze is closely linked to the work of two important literary figures: Rainer Maria Rilke, whose writings were a major contribution in the popularization of Rodin in Germany and who composed the poem “Nike” specifically about this sculpture, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who discovered the plaster model in Rodin’s studio on his trip to Paris in 1900, and immediately commissioned a bronze cast. ‘Man and Genius’ stood as inspiration on Hofmannsthal’s desk in Rodaun near Vienna for 20 years. As financial hardship forced Hofmannsthal to sell his Rodin, it was Rilke in turn who procured the bronze for the Swiss collector Werner Reinhart. From there it later entered the collection of the Nationalgalerie.

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