Auguste Rodin, The Three Shades (detail), 1898, enlarged 1902 – 1904, cast ca.1923. Bronze, 75 1/2 x 73 1/2 x 41 1/2 in. Collection of the City and County of San Francisco, Gift of the Raphael Weill Memorial Committee, L95.74

Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation

The greatest collection of perfect Rodins in the world.” 
— American dancer Loïe Fuller in 1927, friend of Legion of Honor founder Alma de Bretteville Spreckels

Marking the centenary of Auguste Rodin’s death in 1917, the Legion of Honor will present a completely new installation of its extraordinary Rodin holdings in Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation. Approximately 50 objects in bronze, marble, and plaster — all from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection — will be presented in a new context.

The exhibition will examine the artist’s influential work and his celebrated life, from his early days courting controversy with sculptures that bore unexpected levels of naturalism, to his later prestige and lasting influence. The Centenary Installation is part of a worldwide series of major Rodin projects and will provide Bay Area audiences a significant opportunity to examine and recontextualize the legacy of the artist known as “the father of modern sculpture.”

The Legion of Honor’s collection of works by Rodin is one of the finest and most significant in the United States. In 1915, Legion of Honor founders Alma and Adolph Spreckels began assembling what American dancer Loie Fuller called “the greatest collection of perfect Rodins in the world.” The Spreckels purchased works directly from Rodin’s studio, often the original plaster models or works that were cast or carved with the direct supervision of Rodin himself. The exhibition will include pieces related to some of Rodin’s most ambitious commissions: The Burghers of Calais and The Gates of Hell, the latter of which includes his most famous sculpture, The Thinker, now a beloved, iconic emblem of the Legion of Honor.

To further honor the centenary of Rodin’s death, the Legion of Honor has invited artists Urs Fischer (Swiss, 1973) and Sarah Lucas (British, 1962) to unveil new and existing works exhibited in dialogue with the museum’s Rodin sculptures, bringing a contemporary perspective to today’s understanding of Rodin’s work and legacy. Urs Fischer: The Public & the Private will be on view April 22 – July 2, 2017; Sarah Lucas: Good Muse will follow from July 15 – September 24, 2017.

In the news

  • Any chance to celebrate the ‘father of modern sculpture’ is one worth taking, and the Legion of Honor in San Francisco is doing just that to celebrate Auguste Rodin’s centenary.

    Fine Art Connoisseur,
  • Most of the works have been at the museum for 50 years or more. The originality part? Curators will work with two widely known contemporary artists, Swiss-born Urs Fischer and Sarah Lucas of England, on interpretive installations meant to broaden our understanding of Rodin and bring it up to date.

    San Francisco Chronicle,


This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Presenting Sponsor: John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn.
This catalogue is published with the assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment for Publications

Currently on view