AUGUSTE RODIN (1840-1917)
Ugolin dit de la Porte,
41 x 61.5 x 41 cm (16 x 24 x 16 in)
Markings: Inscribed A. Rodin, © by Musée Rodin, numbered, dated and stamped with foundry mark
In La Porte de l’Enfer, Rodin portrayed the story of the torments suffered by Count Ugolino, as related in Dante’s Divine Comedy. When he was captured in February 1289 by the citizens of Pisa, after changing sides several times during the struggle between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, he was imprisoned with his children in the Tower of Hunger in Pisa, where he was forced to watch them die before he devoured them. Rodin, who owned a bronze by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux on the same subject, started to think about the story of Ugolino in 1876. He decided to illustrate not the first days of his torments, as his predecessors had done, but the end, portraying Ugolino crawling over his children, ready to devour them.
In its original dimensions the group was, as planned, incorporated into La Porte de l’Enfer in a symmetrical position to Le Baiser, to function as its counterpoint, extreme happiness balanced by extreme unhappiness. But in 1886, Paolo et Francesca were removed from the Porte, and Ugolin was transferred from the right-hand leaf to the left-hand one. The piece began its independent career in 1887 when it was exhibited as a bronze in Brussels. It was only after the Exhibition of 1900 that Rodin decided to have it enlarged.