The Three Shades
Modeled in clay 1881-1886
Cast in bronze 1983
In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the shades, i.e. the souls of the damned, stand
at the entrance to Hell, pointing to an unequivocal inscription, “Abandon
hope, all ye who enter here”. Rodin made several studies of Shades, before
finally deciding to assemble three identical figures that seem to be
turning around the same point. He placed them on top of The Gates, from
where they could gaze down at the spectator, then had them enlarged to
create a monumental independent group in 1904.
As in Adam , whose twisting, tormented pose The Three Shades have borrowed,
Michelangelo’s influence is obvious here. The angle at which the heads fall
downward is so exaggerated that the necks and shoulders form an almost
horizontal line. It was through anatomical distortion like this that Rodin
achieved an expressive force quite unparalleled in his time.