The Tower of Work

The Tower of Work

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  • Tour of work.

    RODIN Auguste (1840 - 1917)

  • Tour of work in the workshop. Photograph by Eugène DRUET (1867-1916).

    RODIN Auguste (1840 - 1917)

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Title: Tour of work.

Author : RODIN Auguste (1840 - 1917)

Creation date : 1898

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 151 - Width 64.5

Technique and other indications: plaster

Storage location: Rodin Museum website

Contact copyright: © Musée Rodin, Paris - Photo A. Rzepka

Picture reference: S.169

© Musée Rodin, Paris - Photo A. Rzepka

To close

Title: Tour of work in the workshop. Photograph by Eugène DRUET (1867-1916).

Author : RODIN Auguste (1840 - 1917)

Creation date : 1898

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Gelatin silver print

Storage location: Rodin Museum website

Contact copyright: © Rodin Museum, Paris

Picture reference: Ph 403

Tour of work in the workshop. Photograph by Eugène DRUET (1867-1916).

© Rodin Museum, Paris

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The glorification of the world of work

Looking for a landmark symbol for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, Armand Dayot came up with the idea of ​​a monument at work. With Dalou and Constantin Meunier, the peasant and then the worker, long reduced to the role of secondary allegories, had in fact gradually conquered the right to be recognized and represented as such.

Until then the traditional figure of work, which has spanned the centuries, was Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire and metals (Vulcan among the Romans).

Image Analysis

Multiple sources

Rodin set to work with enthusiasm and was soon able to present a model which was exhibited as part of the exhibition Rodin 1900. He had adopted the form of the column but, to make the message of the monument accessible, he imagined fixing a spiral path around a trunk decorated with bas-reliefs and enclosing the whole in an openwork tower leaving widely penetrate the light. Recalling "the beehive and the lighthouse", inspired by both Trajan's Column and Vendôme Column, the Tower of Pisa and the staircase of the Château de Blois, the ensemble is placed on a base flanked by figures of the Day and some Night. This shelters a crypt where were to be represented "the life of the miners, the divers, the dark and painful labors of the land and the sea. Then the ascent begins ... As you go up the work is refined , the trades are less crude, the mind takes more part in them. […] At the top it is pure thought that resides, the noblest profession represented by the artist, the poet, the philosopher. Then, crowning the monument in the sky, placed on the end of the column which, now clear of the tower, soars towards the azure, two spirits pouring Love and Joy on the work, because it is of love and joy, despite all the pains and all the hatreds, that the Work is done ”. This group then enjoyed an independent existence under the title of Blessings.


A utopian project

"Man likes to work well as much as to work badly," said Rodin; I even believe that the first way smiles more on him, as more in accordance with his nature. But he sometimes listens to good, sometimes bad advice; and he currently gives preference to the bad. And yet how much happier mankind would be if work, instead of being for it the price of existence, were the goal! As if to prove him right, the financing of the tower was never found and, although the realization had been relaunched several times, it remained in the state of utopia like the contemporary or very slightly later projects of Jules Dalou, Constantin Meunier (made in 1931 in a different form), Charles Van der Stappen or Henri Bouchard.

  • allegory
  • monuments
  • Rodin (Auguste)
  • sculpture


Emmanuelle HÉRAN "The Age of Colossi. Gigantism in sculpture at the beginning of the 20th century ”, exhibition catalog 1900, Paris, Grand Palais, p. 31-39 Collective, Exhibition catalog Rodin in 1900, the Alma exhibition Paris, RMN, 2001, (object n ° 94).

To cite this article

Antoinette LE NORMAND ROMAIN, "The Tower of Work"

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