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In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently closed but will reopen to the public on June 1. The Gallery will be observing strict social distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of all visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the State. More information




Western art

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The Prodigal Son

cast 1970


Auguste Rodin


12 Nov 1840 - 17 Nov 1917

Georges Rudier Fondeur



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.



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


Artist information

Auguste Rodin

Works in the collection


Artist information

Georges Rudier Fondeur

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 13 publications


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

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

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

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.