Skip to content


An image of The Prodigal Son by Auguste Rodin, Georges Rudier Fondeur

Auguste Rodin

(France 12 Nov 1840 – 17 Nov 1917)

Georges Rudier Fondeur

(France  – )

The Prodigal Son
cast 1970
Media category
Materials used

139.5 x 76.2 x 71.1 cm

Signature & date
Signed top of base, incised "A.Rodin". Not dated.
William Farnsworth Bequest Fund 1979
Accession number
19th c European art
Further information

Were it not for its palpable bodily presence, this moving bronze might almost seem a manifestation of pure spirit. Flame-like and quavering, the supplicant seems already to have passed beyond filial remorse to paternal absolution. Rodin's pre-emption of symbolist and expressionist imperatives is patent in the work. Unarguably the greatest sculptor of the early modern period - it is almost impossible to call him a nineteenth-century figure - Rodin was also among the most prolific. His Paris studio was large and active, and the French master himself a worker of formidable muscularity. Rodin's reputation for genius, cultivated in part by the artist himself, is justified by the extraordinary variety of his invention and the ardour he brought to even the smallest project. 'The prodigal son' characterises Rodin's quest for the life-force within the human form.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

Bibliography (13)

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, Sydney, 1981, 27 (colour illus.).

David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Fine and decorative art, 1978, (illus.). 1

J. de Caso and P. Sanders, Rodin sculpture, a critical study of the Spreckels Coll, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1977, 159-163 (illus.). 24

Renée Free, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'European Art', pg. 27-36, Sydney, 1981, 27 (colour illus.), 30. 1

Renee Free, Art and Australia, 'European Acquisitions: 1972-83', pg. 63-67, Sydney, Spring 1984, 66, 74, 76 (illus.).

P. Gsell, L'Art et les artistes, 1906-1907, 406, 402 (illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 47 (colour illus.).

E.H. Ramsden, Twentieth century sculpture, London, 1949, 126.

Auguste Rodin, Art, London, 1912, 30-31.

S. Story, Rodin, London, 1939, 146 (illus.). plate no. 69-71

Athena C. Tacha, Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin, Autumn 1969, 25.

Athena C. Tacha, Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin, 1964, 23-39.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Catalogue of Sculpture by Rodin, London, 1925, IV (illus.), 13.

Exhibition history (2)

Fine and decorative art (1978), David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 17 Oct 1978–07 Nov 1978

Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1981–01 Dec 1981