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Past Exhibitions
[Prints and Drawings Exhibition] Getting to the Gates of Hell: Rodin's Album Fenaille Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy

[Prints and Drawings Exhibition]
Getting to the Gates of Hell: Rodin's Album Fenaille Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy

image: One of the Furies
One of the Furies

Saturday, 21 October 2017 - Sunday, 28 January 2018
9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Fridays, Saturdays 9:30 am - 8:00 pm
18 November 2017 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Admission ends 30 mins. before closing time
Mondays except 8 January 2018.
Closed on28 December 2017 to 1 January 2018, 9 January.
Prints and Drawings Gallery, New Wing
Organized by
The National Museum of Western Art
Admission Fees
Adults 500 yen (400 yen), College students 250 yen (200 yen)
Numbers in parentheses indicate discount fees for groups of 20 or more.
Admission is free for Special Exhibition or Permanent Collection ticket holders.
Visitors aged 18 and under or 65 and older are admitted free of charge. Please show your ID upon entrance to confirm your age.
Disabled visitors admitted free of charge, with one attendant. Please present your disability identification upon arrival.

In 1880, Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) received a commission to produce a large-scale sculpture for the portal of a planned decorative arts museum in Paris. Choosing the Inferno from Dante's Divine Comedy as his subject, Rodin undertook the project, which would eventually evolve into the monumental work The Gates of Hell. In addressing the theme, he began by creating a plethora of drawings: "I've spent a whole year living with Dante, living on and with him alone and drawing the eight cycles of his Inferno" (Rodin). Inspired by Virgil and Dante's journey through Hell, Rodin's imagination poured onto paper a world of dreadful visions where dead souls suffer various torments for sins committed on earth and demons run rampant in the surrounding space. It's understood that he eventually put these drawings aside, considering them too detached from reality, and reworked his theme by taking inspiration from nature. The original drawings, however, are a more faithful reflection of the unfettered vision of Rodin the draftsman, revealing the germination of the creative process for his imposing sculpture The Gates of Hell, in which the agony of life and the splendor of creation freely intermingle.

The large drawing album, known as Album Fenaille after Rodin's champion, the art connoisseur Maurice Fenaille, is a compilation of 142 drawings on the theme of Dante's Inferno selected by the artist and reproduced on the same scale as the original using a sophisticated photogravure technique. Consisting of three parts—"Inferno," "Limbo," and "Studies"—with a preface by the author Octave Mirbeau, the album was published in a limited edition of 125 copies by the firm of art dealers Jean Boussod, Manzi, Joyant & Cie, successor of Goupil & Cie, in 1897. Produced with the active involvement of Rodin, Album Fenaille is highly regarded and seen as a precursor of the "artist's book." This small-scale exhibition in Autumn 2017––marking the centenary of Rodin's death in November 1917––presents all the plates from Album Fenaille as well as sculptural works by the artist related to The Gates of Hell.

  • image: Centaur Abducting Two Women
    Centaur Abducting Two Women

  • image: Demon in the Air
    Demon in the Air
  • image: Ugolino Imprisoned
    Ugolino Imprisoned

Exhibition Checklist (PDF file, about 79KB)PDF