The Golden Age

Artist: Auguste Rodin (French, Paris 1840–1917 Meudon)

Date: ca. 1878

Medium: Black chalk heightened with white on faded blue paper

Dimensions: 18 7/16 x 12 in. (46.8 x 30.4 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1963

Accession Number: 63.92.3


Redolent of the eighteenth century in both subject and technique, the drawing reflects Rodin's meticulous training in the traditions of French eighteenth-century draftsmanship under Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran at the École Impériale Spéciale de Dessin et de Mathématiques, now the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who ultimately became the director of the "Petite École" as it was popularly known, strongly opposed the academic training practices that were current at the École des Beaux-Arts in the 1850s.

The title, L'Âge d'Or (The Age of Gold) in Rodin's handwriting (upper right), refers to the Greek myth of the four ages of the world. During the first age, the Age of Gold, human beings were thought to have lived in a perpetual state of youthfulness, happiness, plenty, and peace. The third age, the Age of Bronze, when the first warlike men were thought to die by violence, was the origin of the title of one of Rodin's well-known sculptures.