Print Сite this

The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture

If you are about to analyze The Thinker sculpture meaning check out our essay sample! Here, you’ll find the philosophy behind the sculpture and its significance. So, why is The Thinker important? Find the answer with our sample!

We will write a
custom essay
specifically for you

for only $16.05 $11/page
308 certified writers online
Learn More


The Thinker is one of the most outstanding works of art. This paper provides a detailed analysis of the elements of art and design related to August Rodin’s The Thinker. Line, shape, motion, balance, proportion, and rhythm are discussed. A personal response is provided. The goal of the paper is to create a complete picture of the philosophy and meanings underlying The Thinker.

The Thinker

The Thinker is one of the most outstanding Auguste Rodin’s creations. Solid and gorgeous in its physical appearance, The Thinker exemplifies the depth of human emotion and a unique product of Rodin’s craftsmanship. Initially designed as part of a monumental complex representing Dante’s The Divine Comedy, The Thinker eventually turned into a sophisticated sculptural reflection of human mental and emotional complexity (Statue, 2011). Today, Rodin’s The Thinker remains one of the brightest representations of bronze sculpture and a complex, multidimensional embodiment of any artist who relies on his imagination and undergoes a profound emotional change every time a new work of art is created.

The Thinker is a statue made of bronze, created by Auguste Rodin, size 28 1/8 x 14 5/16 x 23 7/16 in (National Gallery of Art, 2011). The statue can be seen in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (National Gallery of Art, 2011). It is a gift of Mrs. John W. Simpson to the museum (National Gallery of Art, 2011).

It is difficult to describe The Thinker without going into detail. The statue is so overwhelming, complex, sophisticated, and multidimensional that to describe it briefly without omitting important elements is virtually impossible. Everything in Rodin’s The Thinker is extremely important to understand its philosophy and underlying meanings. The National Gallery of Art (2011) suggests that every part of The Thinker’s sculpture, from brow to nostrils and lips, expresses the magnitude of its commitment to mental work. It is possible to say that Rodin’s The Thinker is both a unique instrument of the artist’s self-expression and universal representation of human thinking, which transcends the boundaries of imagination and covers all aspects of human life. The Thinker is a bronze statue of a man in a state of sober thinking, meditation, and contemplation.

The statue expresses the entire range of emotions, from seriousness, through curiosity and thought, to almost physical pain. The bronze man is sitting in a unique pose, “with hand to chin, right elbow to the left knee, and crouching position allows the statue to survey the work with a contemplative feel” (Statue, 2011). The man looks as if every single cell of his body is involved in a difficult process of thinking. It is an internal struggle, which must certainly end up in creating something significant. The Thinker is not a statue of man but a depiction of a mental act; it is a creative embodiment of human thought, which is equally familiar and new to the viewer. It is an embodiment of innovation and creation, which does not merely involve the human brain but implies an almost physical struggle with the self, which is clearly seen through a clenched fist, knitted brow, gripping toes, and compressed lips (National Gallery of Art, 2011).

In the case of The Thinker, line, shape, motion, balance, proportion, and rhythm are the most important elements of art and design. It is through these elements that Rodin successfully communicates his feelings and perceptions of the realities of life. The line is probably basic but not the simplest element of art. With Rodin’s The Thinker, the line possesses exquisite and apparent expressive properties: it is equally delicate, elegant, and brutal. It is not straight, vertical, or horizontal. It is highly complex, carrying a serious emotional burden. This line is both actual and implied – the former is the edge of the statue, whereas the latter connects The Thinker to the rest of the world.

Get your
100% original paper
on any topic

done in as little as
3 hours
Learn More

In this act of mental struggle, The Thinker is not separated but, on the contrary, is drawn closer to the realities of life. It is also a psychological line between the statue and its viewers, which implies the roundness of the statue’s body and the roundness in the statue’s relations with the world. In Rodin’s The Thinker, line fulfills two important functions: (1) it outlines the statue’s shape and (2) adds depth to the statue’s movement – this movement is not physical but entirely mental. The line implies progress and assertiveness in the bronze man’s movement toward his goal.

Line and shape are inseparable. The Thinker is no exception: here, the shape does not simply create a boundary but forms an organic vision of a perfect human body in an internal state struggle. It is an organic shape, which has the natural appearance of an adult man. It is a positive shape since it is always the main focus of the viewer’s analysis. Like any other sculpture, The Thinker is located in three-dimensional space. Rodin’s statue is not stopped in time. Rather, it implies that the man constantly moves in his thoughts. It is not an illusion of motion since the bronze man does not actually move. It is an implied motion; it creates a sensation of emotional movement.

The elements of design, including balance, proportion, and rhythm, add to the complexity of Rodin’s statue. The Thinker is extremely unusual in its usualness. Simply stated, Rodin does not try to grab attention by using unusual features of art and design. On the contrary, everything in the bronze statue looks usual and logical: the symmetrical balance, perfect proportions, and a remarkable unity with the place where the bronze man is sitting creates a sense of rhythmic abstraction. Here, The Thinker fights with his inner self and slowly progresses to achieve the desired goal. The essence of Rodin’s sculpture is in its details. There is no single focal point; rather, the statue is perfect in its entirety.

The eyes and brow, fist and hands, gripped toes and muscles in physically-emotional tension create a sense of complexity. They also imply that the man may not be able to overcome the mental/ emotional difficulties he is facing. Perfectly symmetrical and balanced against the environment, The Thinker shows that each dimensional element of the statue is perfect and deserves to become an effective attention grabber. Again, The Thinker is so organic in his mental action that there seems to be complete unity between it and the environment. As such, there is no implied line separating the statue from the world, but there is emotional strength that glues The Thinker to the rest of the world.

The medium plays a crucial role in how the statue is presented. Actually, it is with the help of bronze that Rodin managed to exploit the creative potential of sculpture to the fullest. Bronze had always been one of the most popular media in art and design. The Thinker bronze adds to the picture of rhythmic abstraction and progressive emotional movement. The fact is that bronze has a unique ability to expand and shrink, filling in the finest elements of the mold; as a result, bronze makes it possible to create an extremely organic, harmonious picture of the human body. It makes it possible to include details that express the most complicated and challenging emotions.

Auguste Rodin once wrote: “The Thinker has a story. […] The fertile thought slowly elaborates itself within his brain. He is no longer a dreamer. He is a creator” (Phelan, 2001). I support Rodin in that The Thinker has a long story preceding his act of thinking. The strength and intensiveness of his struggle are difficult to overestimate. I believe that the absence of unique features, or attention grabbers, is the distinctive feature of Rodin’s sculpture. The Thinker is valuable and impressive not because of its clenched fists or gripped toes, but because it creates a generalizable image of mental work.

It is not work in a traditional sense of the word but the toil of creation. In its crouching position, with its body strong and lips compressed in a mental effort, The Thinker accepts and reconciles with its creative mission. The statue’s entire body is involved in this mental struggle. Implied lines creating progressive emotional movement suggest that, very soon, this act of thinking will transform into a work of art. This work of art is colored with the anguish of creation – the anguish, without which no act of birth is possible.

We will write a custom
for you!
Get your first paper with
15% OFF
Learn More


Like any other work of art, Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker is unique in its mental and emotional capacity. A bronze man in a crouching position, with a clenched fist and gripping toes, The Thinker is an embodiment of inner struggle, which leads to an act of creation. Complex lines, three-dimensional space, shape, and implied motion altogether create an image of the progressive movement to the desired goal. The medium adds to the picture of rhythmic abstraction, which is inseparable from pain – pain that borders on anguish, without which no act of birth is possible.

Rodin, A. The Thinker.
Pic.1. Rodin, A. The Thinker. (The Artchive, 2011).


National Gallery of Art. (2011). Zone 2: Auguste Rodin, The Thinker. National Gallery of Art. Web.

Phelan, J. (2001). Who is Rodin’s Thinker? Art Cyclopedia. Web.

Statue. (2011). The Thinker status by Auguste Rodin. Web.

The Artchive. (2011). Rodin, Auguste: The Thinker. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


StudyCorgi. (2022, June 9). The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2022, June 9). The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture.

Work Cited

"The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture." StudyCorgi, 9 June 2022,

* Hyperlink the URL after pasting it to your document

1. StudyCorgi. "The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture." June 9, 2022.


StudyCorgi. "The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture." June 9, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture." June 9, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Thinker: August Rodin’s Sculpture'. 9 June.

This paper was written and submitted to our database by a student to assist your with your own studies. You are free to use it to write your own assignment, however you must reference it properly.

If you are the original creator of this paper and no longer wish to have it published on StudyCorgi, request the removal.