Born Auguste-René-Francois Rodin as son of a Normandy Police officer; at age 14 student at the future École des Arts Décoratives; made his first independent work in 1864; from 1864-1871 worked at the Sèvres Porcelain Factory; stayed in Belgium after the war from 1871-1877; travelled to Florence and Rome and was greartly impressed by Michelangelo's sculpture; travelled through France to study the Cathedrals; in 1889 R. had extensive exhibition of his work together with Monet; moved to a town close to Sèvres in 1890 and four years later moved again to Meudon; R. always had a studio in Paris, the last of which is now known as the Musée Rodin. Rodin is considered the most important sculptor of the nineteenth century, whose work defied academic tradition and helped lead the way to modernism. He studied in Paris from 1854 to 1857 at the Petite Ecole (a free drawing school) under Lecoq de Boisbaudran. In 1857 he failed the entrance examination of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and to support his family he began to assist commercial sculptors including Carrier-Belleuse. In Brussels in 1875-76 he produced his first masterwork, The Age of Bronze, attacked by critics who assumed its realism depended on casting directly from a live model. In 1880 he was commissioned to make doors for the Musee des Arts Decoratifs: this project, The Cates of Hell, occupied him for over twenty years and became a source for numerous sculptures that he cast independently. Two other important monuments, The Burghers of Calais and Balzac, were unveiled in 1895 and 1898. Controversial because of its unconventional poses, dramatic modeling, and candor of emotional and sexual expression, Rodin's work achieved full recognition only after a retrospective at the Paris International Exposition of 1900. Thereafter it was in great demand to a host of international collectors. At his death he bequeathed a large body of his work to the French nation, now housed in the Musee Rodin in Paris.