Rodin Works: The Amercan Athlete, Portrait of samuel S. White


In 1901, Rodin allowed a young man to improvise on the pose of 'The Thinker' while the artist created 'The American Athlete'.

American Athlete, plaster, private collectionThe French Master was greatly impressed by the well-developed physical appearance of his model, Samuel Stockton White III. The latter was a member of the Princeton University gymnastics team and was introduced to Rodin during a stay in Paris, who asked him to pose for him. The transatlantic co-operation was positively covered in the American press; in an article of 16 March 1902 in the Philadelphia Sunday Press, White recalled his first sittings in Rodin's atelier:

"When I first posed for him, he complimented me most highly and said that my chest, arms, shoulders, and back were beautiful, and that, from him, means so much." 

American Athlete, bronzeOver a period of several years, White used to visit Rodin in Paris; Rodin modeled two slightly different versions, one with the head looking straight and the other with the head turned to the left. The first cast of the first version was presented to White. 

In a letter to Mrs Margery Mason, dated 25 May 1949, White recollected his meetings with the sculptor :

I posed for him in 1901 and 1904 for the statuette which he called, "The Athlete." (...)

How I came to pose for him is rather interesting; while I was attending Cambridge University in England, I joined Sandow’s academy in London as I was very interested in physical development, hand balancing, etc. and won the Sandow Gold Medal for Development. During this period, I was spending some time in Paris and a friend of mine suggested that I offer myself as model to Rodin; the idea interested me and I paid a visit to Rodin who complimented me on my development and accepted me as a model.

After trying me in several standing poses, he suggested that I take a pose of my own which I did, — seated — the pose being somewhat similar to "The Thinker."

'The American Athlete' is just one of many cases, in which Rodin preferred to work with dancers, acrobats or strong men (like the carnival artist Cailloux, who posed for 'The Falling Man' and 'The Shade'), instead of employing professional models with their studied academic poses.


Advanced Search and Search Rules

Advanced Search & Search Rules

Terms of Use  Copyright Policy    Menu missing?  Back one page  Reload this page   Top of this page 

Notice: Museum logos appear only as buttons linking to Museum Websites and do not imply any
formal approval of RODIN-WEB pages by these institutions. For details see Copyright Policy.
© Copyright 1992 - Juni 2004 for data collection & design by Hans de Roos - All Rights Reserved.
Last update of this page: 06.06.2004