Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917) brought monumental public sculpture into the modern era. Though he was well acquainted with the academic traditions and idealized subjects of classical and Renaissance sculpture, Rodin's aim in his work was to be absolutely faithful to nature. His uncanny ability to convey movement and to show the inner feelings of the men and women he portrayed, the bravura of his light-catching modeling, and his extraordinary use of similar figures in different mediums, have established him as one of the greatest sculptors of all time.
The Rodin Museum was the gift of movie theater magnate Jules Mastbaum (American, 1872–1926) to the city of Philadelphia. Mastbaum began collecting works by Rodin in 1923 with the intent of founding a museum to enrich the lives of his fellow citizens. Just three years later, he had assembled the largest collection of Rodin's works outside Paris, including bronze castings, plaster studies, drawings, prints, letters, and books. In 1926, Mastbaum commissioned French architects Paul Cret and Jacques Gréber to design the Museum building and gardens. Unfortunately, the collector did not live to see his dream realized, but his widow honored his commitment to the city, and the Museum was inaugurated on November 29, 1929.