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The Thinker, modeled and cast in 1903

  • Auguste Rodin, French, 1840-1917
  • Alexis Rudier Foundry, French, 1874 - 1952


  • Overall: 79 × 51 1/4 × 55 1/4 inches, 2000 pounds (200.7 × 130.2 × 140.3 cm, 907.2 kg) Overall (granite base weight): 12000 pounds (5443.2 kg)

Gift of Horace H. Rackham


On View

  • Edith and Benson Ford Plaza and Woodward entrance area


European Sculpture and Dec Arts

“The Thinker” was conceived as representing Dante, the central figure of Rodin’s monumental “The Gates of Hell.” Rodin considered this figure in broad universal terms to symbolize the powerful internal struggle of the creative human mind. Rodin soon designed “The Thinker” as an independent sculpture. In 1904 he displayed the first over-life-size enlargement at the Paris Salon, where Dr. Max Linde, a German collector, acquired cast no. 3. In 1922 Horace Rackham purchased this cast from Dr. Linde and donated it to the museum, where it is placed at the Woodward Avenue entrance.

1903, Dr. and Mrs. M. Linde (Lübeck, Germany)

1922, sold with rest of collection

1922-present, gift of Horace Rackham to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

R.P. "Rodin's 'Le Pensur' Given." Bulletin of the DIA 4, no. 3 (December 1922): 18-19, (cover ill.). Detroit Institute of Arts. Modern Sculpture. Detroit, 1950, pp. 12-13 (ill.). “Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit Free Press, June 4, 1978, p. 22 (ill.). “Family Art Game.” DIA Advertising Supplement, Detroit News/Detroit Free Press, April 18, 1982, (cover ill.). Marandel, J. P. "Rodin's 'Thinker': Notes on the Early History of the Detroit Cast; Followed by part one of a correspondence between Auguste Rodin and Max Linde." Bulletin of the DIA no. 4 (1987): 32-52, figs. 1-2, title page (ill.). Marandel, J. Patrice. "Rodin's Thinker: Notes on the Early History of the Detroit Cast." Bulletin of the DIA 63, nos. 3/4: 32-55, fig. 1, cf. fig. 9. Le Normand-Romain, Antoinette. The Bronzes of Rodin: Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin vol. II. Paris, 2007, pp. 584-595. Abt, Jeffrey. Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum: A History of Fiscal Abandonment and Rescue. Detroit, 2017, pp. xvi, 123, fig. 4.2 (ill.).

Auguste Rodin; Alexis Rudier Foundry, The Thinker, modeled and cast in 1903, bronze. Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Horace H. Rackham, 22.143.