The Gates Of Hell" by Rodin, at Musée Rodin in Paris
The sculpture was commissioned by the Directorate of Fine Arts in 1880 and was meant to be delivered in 1885. Rodin would continue to work on and off on this project for 37 years, until his death in 1917.
During the thirty-seven-year period that the sculptor worked on the project he continually added, removed, or altered the more than two hundred human figures that appear on the doors. Some of his most famous works, likeThe Thinker, The Three Shades, or The Kiss, were originally conceived as part of The Gates and were only later removed, enlarged, and cast as independent pieces.
Rodin's initial inspiration came from Inferno(Italian for "hell"), the first part of Italian poet Dante Alighieri's (1265–1324) epic poem The Divine Comedy.
For Rodin, the chaotic population on The Gates of Hellenjoyed only one final freedom—the ability to express their agony with complete abandon. In the end, the artist discarded the specific narratives of Dante's poem, and today The Gatesis no longer a methodical representation of Inferno. Instead, the figures on the doors poignantly and heart-renderingly evoke universal human emotions and experiences, such as forbidden love, punishment, and suffering, but they also suggest unapologetic sexuality, maternal love, and contemplation.