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The American Athlete

Modeled 1901-1904; cast 1904
Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917) Cast by the founder Alexis Rudier, Paris (1874–1952)
In The American Athlete, sculptor Auguste Rodin captures the effect of light and shadow on the powerful form of his amateur model. The Philadelphian Samuel Stockton White III sat for Rodin in Paris in 1901 and 1904, while on breaks from his studies as a bodybuilder. Rodin disliked professional models’ tendency to adopt conventional poses and encouraged White to select a pose that felt natural. Recognizing that the modeling sessions might be long, White adopted this seated position that, perhaps unintentionally, recalls Rodin’s acclaimed work The Thinker from 1880. When White asked to buy a bronze version of the piece, Rodin presented him with this, the first bronze cast. White became an avid art collector upon his return to Philadelphia, no doubt inspired by his experience in Rodin’s studio and the interests of his wife, the painter Vera McEntire.

Object Details

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