He’s the Real Deal!
The origins of “The Thinker” statue date to 1880 when the French government commissioned Auguste Rodin to create a gate for a planned museum in Paris. He found inspiration in Michelangelo’s depiction of Hell in the Sistine Chapel paintings and in Dante’s epic poem “The Inferno”. Rodin created a prototype for a massive gate he called “The Gates of Hell”. It is two massive doors portraying condemned souls reaching up to the man called the “poet” who sat atop the gate, contemplating the condemned souls below. Paris never built the museum but Rodin never let go of the design of the man. Most residents in Louisville are not aware of the history and greatness of this piece of art. Its value is around $23M.
According the University of Louisville website, The Thinker statue that sits in front of Grawemeyer Hall is the first large-scale bronze cast of The Thinker. French sculptor Auguste Rodin personally supervised the casting in Paris. It came out of the mold Dec. 25, 1903, and was completed in early 1904. The Thinker design has been cast many times. Eight were made before Rodin’s death in 1917.
As the first large-scale Thinker ever cast, UofL’s Thinker claims priority as the most original.
Rodin sent The Thinker to the 1904 World’s Fair. It was owned privately in Baltimore and later was displayed in the Walters Art Museum there. When Baltimore purchased another Thinker, the museum sold the sculpture to the estate of lawyer and art lover Arthur Hopkins, which bought it for the city of Louisville. The city decided to put The Thinker at the University of Louisville.
The Thinker has sat in front of Grawemeyer Hall since 1949.
Chemical reactions of acids in rainwater with copper compounds in the bronze had turned our Thinker green. Between December 2011 and February 2012, conservators cleaned the corrosion and gave him a black-over-green patina similar to that on other versions of The Thinker.
MH Equipment’s Rental team, headed by Jill Marzian in Louisville, provided a forklift to assist in the move of the statue from its pedestal to a warehouse. There the statue was meticulously cleaned and restored. Jill said it was a real pleasure to work so closely with Methods & Materials and several professors of art and restoration from different areas of the United States on the project.
Jill was on-site from the beginning of the 5 hour move determining how the statue was mounted on the pedestal, making it safe to move, positioning and placing it on the pallet, and then moving it with the Hyster H50FT forklift.
The final results are amazing! Take a look at these pictures from the University of Louisville website to see the final results.