The Thinker is not only the best known of Rodin's work but also the single most famous piece of modern sculpture. It was born from the concept for the never-completed "The Gates of Hell." Rodin developed it as an independent work from the figure that was to be situated in the center of the tympanum (the semicircular area above an entranceway). "The Gates of Hell" concept as a whole was based on The Inferno, one part of Dante's The Divine Comedy. This figure, which dominated the intended work, was planned to represent Dante himself, pondering the human fate while looking down at Hell. As Rodin worked on this piece, however, its significance changed, and it became a universal presence in everlasting meditation on the human fate. The Thinker was produced in three versions, large, medium, and small. The work in the Bridgestone Museum of Art is the small version, cast in about 1902.
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