Like the Impressionists, the French sculptor Auguste Rodin captured moments in time. The sculpture of Impressionist style translates the same artistic theories to the three-dimensional. Very much similar to the way in which Impressionist painters would dot their canvases with paint, Impressionist sculptors, like Rodin, produced uneven surfaces with added pieces, applied bit by bit. Life's fleeting moments were thematically portrayed here, too.
Here we see the artist's envisioning of the Prodigal Son. Not to mention the figure's passionate gestures and upward-stretching body, the way light and shadow play over the uneven surface of the figure gives it life and vitality. This sculpture is rich in energy, movement, and emotion. Rodin intended to express joy and sorrow and pain. The prodigal son, with head and arms reaching upward, is a powerful image. His wealth and self-esteem gone, at the edge of despair, he pleads for forgiveness. Here the artist's vision of pain and desperation is so effective that, like the father to whom the son pleads, you, the viewer, are moved to show forgiveness.
This is not a contemporary subject, so it feels out of place with the other Modernist works we have been looking at so far. Rodin's Impressionistic style characterized his sculpting technique and the way in which he wanted to portray his figures, but it did not spread into his subject matter. Although he did sculpt relatively contemporary images, such as his homage piece dedicated to Balzac, finished approximately forty years after the famous French writer's death, most of Rodin's works deal in past, Classical, or philosophical subjects.