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French sculptor and draughtsman, one of the greatest and most influential European artists of his period. He was the first sculptor since the heyday of Neoclassicism to occupy a central position in public attention and he opened up new possibilities for his art in a manner comparable to that of his great contemporaries in painting—Cézanne, Gauguin, and van Gogh. His beginnings, however, were not auspicious: he came from a poor background, was rejected three times by the École des Beaux-Arts, and for many years worked mainly as an ornamental mason. In the winter of 1875–6 Rodin visited Italy, where (as he later wrote to Bourdelle) ‘Michelangelo freed me from academism.’ Michelangelo was the inspiration for his first major work, a male nude, The Age of Bronze, which was exhibited at the 1877 Salon.

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