NSFW! Auguste Neyt, model for The Bronze Age by Rodin


rodin the bronze age auguste neyt

When critics accused Auguste Rodin of casting his groundbreaking The Bronze Age from a live model, he commissioned nude photographer Gaudenzio Marconi to photograph both the statue and the model, 22-year-old Auguste Neyt.

Auguste Rodin is now lauded as the founder of modern sculpture — a modern-day Michelangelo. But the sculptor of iconic works like The Thinker and The Kiss did not enjoy early success.

Failing to set the art world on fire, Rodin survived as a decorator. The poverty-stricken French craftsman moved to Belgium around the age of thirty and at last made a decent living. A few years later, he took two months off for an Italian sojourn. A holiday, but for a would-be sculptor, a working holiday. Rodin studied the works of great masters like Michelangelo and Donatello. He returned to Belgium inspired.

NSFW: Click here — other male full-frontal nudes taken by Gaudenzio Marconi between 1865 and 1885. (Scroll down for his image of Auguste Neyt.)

Auguste Rodin set to work on the life-size nude male figure later known as The Bronze Age. Unsatisfied with the classically-inspired statuary of his day, Rodin strove for naturalism. He did not want the people he modelled in marble and bronze to resemble idealised figures from ancient myth and legend. He strived to portray contemporary people in a realistic manner.

The professional live models of the era proved not up to the task. Trained to hold studied academic poses for long periods, they could not relax into the more natural posture he required. Rodin needed someone fresh and unversed in traditional poses.

He thought a soldier might fit the bill, a young warrior with a fine physique and untutored in traditional sculptural poses. The sculptor settled on Auguste Neyt, “a fine noble-hearted boy, full of fire and valour.”

Gaudenzio Marconi the bronze age auguste rodin sugust neyt
The Thinker & The Kiss

Auguste Neyt

Auguste Neyt began work as the model for The Bronze Age in early October 1875. The work would continue on and off for two years.

The naturally muscular young model later recalled long, strenuous sessions.

He said he had “to go through all kinds of poses… in order to get the muscles right. Rodin did not want any of the muscles exaggerated, he wanted naturalness.”

Rodin walked around and around both his model and his clay likeness, ensuring every contour matched.

In 1876, he sent the clay to a mould-maker to cast the statue in the one material he could afford — white plaster.

However, when Rodin exhibited the figure, critics accused him of casting the statue from a living model rather than crafting it by hand. One described the work as a “slavish likeness of a model with neither character nor beauty, an astonishingly exact copy of a most commonplace individual.”

To prove the naysayers wrong, the sculptor commissioned Gaudenzio Marconi to photograph Auguste Neyt and the statue.

Gaudenzio Marconi moved to Paris from Italy in his early twenties and photographed nude models for artists who could not afford live models. He sold both male and female nudes, often having his models imitate poses from sculptures of classical antiquity.

Antique Manspreading

The photo below shows a young man posed in the style of the Barberini Faun, an ancient Greek or Roman statue found in a Roman moat in the 1620s. Although Greek and Roman statues often displayed male genitalia, the Barberini Faun attracted attention for its ‘wantonly spread legs’. The ancient manspreading focused attention squarely on the statue’s typically petite cock and uncommonly pendulous balls.

The statue abides today in Germany, bought in the early 1800s by the grandfather of Ludwig II of Bavaria.

NSFW: Click here — a male full-frontal nude by Gaudenzio Marconi inspired by the Barberini Faun (also pictured).

Rodin displayed Gaudenzio Marconi’s nude photographs of Auguste Neyt beside his plaster statue. Viewers could check for themselves that he had not simply taken a cast of the young soldier’s body. The abs were more defined, and the legs and neck slimmer. Those with an eye for small details will notice that contrary to Rodin’s usual commitment to realism, he also shrank Auguste Neyt’s dick. In this one respect, he conformed to the still-prevailing classical and renaissance artistic tradition of discreet and unthreatening penes.

Don’t worry Auguste. We know you were hung.

NSFW: Click here — full-frontal nude of Auguste Neyt by Gaudenzio Marconi, 1877 white plaster cast, and a later bronze version.

The accusations of fakery stung Rodin even after he became a world-renowned sculptor. He never again made a life-size work, all his future statues either notably smaller or larger than life.

Despite his erotically-charged recreations of the male form, Auguste Rodin was ferociously heterosexual. Indeed, when success came, the founder of modern sculpture apparently kneaded more female flesh than clay.

He died in 1917. The Musée Rodin founded the year before his death holds more than 6000 of his sculptures.

rodin auguste neyt the bronze age
Samuel Stockton White III and The Athlete

Samuel Stockton White III, Eugen Sandow & Rodin

American gymnast Samuel Stockton White III emanated from a wealthy Pennsylvanian family. While enrolled at Cambridge College in England, he caught the eye of Eugen Sandow of the Academy of Physical Development. The bisexual Father of Modern Bodybuilding and pioneering nude male pinup became, in Sam’s words, mentor and coach to the aspiring athlete. In 1899, Samuel Stockton White III won the Sandow Medal, awarded to ‘the strongest and most perfectly developed man in the United Kingdom.

In 1901, Sam popped over to Paris and offered himself as a model to Rodin. Extolling the beauty of the gymnast’s torso, arms, shoulders and back, Rodin used him as the model for his nude male figure The Athlete.

Samuel Stockton White III later became a prominent modern art collector. On his death, he bequeathed his collection to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a bronze model of The Athlete gifted to him by Rodin, back to the Musée Rodin.

Read also: Féral Benga: Folies Bergère star, actor & nude model.

Édouard Dermit: Actor, Model, Painter… lover of Jean Cocteau

Eugen Sandow: Was the OG nude male pinup bisexual?

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Destiny Rogers

Destiny Rogers embarked on her career in the media industry immediately after high school, initially joining Mirror News, which later evolved into News Ltd. She fondly recalls editing Ian Byford's 'Passing Glances: A History of Gay Cairns' as one of her most fulfilling projects. Additionally, Destiny co-researched and co-wrote 'The Queen's Ball', chronicling the history of the world's longest-running continuous queer event. Her investigative work on the history of Australia's COON Cheese and Edward Coon culminated in the publication 'COON: More Holes than Swiss Cheese', a collaborative effort with Dr. Stephen Hagan. Destiny's journey at QNews began as a feature writer, and she was subsequently elevated to the role of Managing Editor of QNews Magazine in 2018. However, in July 2022, she decided to resign from this role to refocus on research and feature writing. For contact, please reach out at destinyr@qnews.com.au.

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