Rodin – The Walking Man

Auguste Rodin's "The Walking Man."

Visitors to SIUE’s Lovejoy Library pass by a masterpiece by the hundreds each day without even knowing the cultural and monetary value of the art.  The sculpture, which is much larger than life, ties many points in history, past and present, together.

The sculpture is “The Walking Man” by Auguste Rodin.  It stands near the center of the building on the main floor of Lovejoy Library. The sculpture was purchased in 1965 for about $29,000, according to Eric Barnett, director of the University Museum, and came directly from the foundry.

Auguste Rodin's "The Walking Man."

Since it was purchased in 1965, the sculpture has remained in Lovejoy Library except for a short five month period.  In May of 2003, the sculpture was loaned to Le Musée des beaux-arts du Canada (The National Gallery of Canada) for a major exhibition.

The value of the sculpture increased dramatically following the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. According to Barnett, a large collection of Rodin’s works–sculptures, drawing, and paintings– were housed in the World Trade Center.

“A whole bunch of Rodin work was lost in the Trade Centers collapse. Cantor-Fitzgerald Law Offices, the Cantor’s–the same family that has donated quantities of Rodin pieces to places like Stanford–they had their own collection. So there were quite a few sculptures and a bunch of drawings and stuff related to Rodin at their offices in the Trade Center,” said Barnett.

The sculpture, according to Barnett, may be worth several million dollars.  Even though it is valuable, the sculpture remains in the library where students, faculty, staff and university guests can view it.  This follows the design of the University Museum which is housed throughout the SIUE campus.  Rather than having one central building housing the collection, the collection is spread across campus to allow everyone to have access to the collection.

Rodin's signature on the base of "The Walking Man."

Auguste Rodin's "The Walking Man."

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