Born to modest means on November 12, 1840, François-Auguste-René Rodin was the second child of Jean-Baptiste Rodin and Marie Cheffer. He was somewhat shy and very nearsighted, which proved a hindrance in his early academic work. He took a serious interest in drawing and had his first drawing lesson when he was ten years old. His father tried to help him academically by sending him to his uncle's boarding school in Beauvais in 1851. He remained there for three years, but still had difficulty reading and writing, and the time was soon approaching for him to learn a trade.
Devoting himself to drawing early on, Rodin enrolled at the École Impériale de Dessin, a government school for craft and design (also called the "Petite École" or "Small School" to distinguish itself from the more prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, or "School of Fine Arts".) He kept himself very busy, attending classes at La Petite École, visiting museums to study antique sculpture, and attending the Gobelins tapestry manufactory, where he also studied drawing. During these early years he also discovered clay and found himself to be a very capable and promising sculptor. Although he was awarded two prizes for drawing and modeling at the age of seventeen, Rodin was unable to gain admittance to the prestigious and conservative École des Beaux-Arts, which rejected him three times.
Auguste Rodin brought the public sculpture into the modern era. Rodin's objective was to be consistent with nature. His ability to convey movement and to show the inner feelings of the men and women he portrayed,and the brilliant technical skills of his light-catching modeling, and his extraordinary use of similar figures in different mediums, have established him as one of the greatest sculptors of all time.