Auguste Rodin left many sculptural traces in Brussels
In the second half of the 19th century, the young Belgium filled itself with statues that could support the creation of a national mythology that glorified its heroes. It was in the same era that the capital, encouraged by its sovereign, became filled with a series of prestigious buildings celebrating culture and industry. So there was no shortage of work for artists, both Belgian and foreign. Auguste Rodin, who would become the master sculptor of his time, was part of the adventure. The young sculptor accompanied Carrier-Belleuse to the building site for the new Palais de la Bourse in Brussels, where he created a decorative frieze on the themes of industry, agriculture, arts and sciences.
The following year, Rose Beuret, his companion, muse and model (Mignon, Bellone, L'Alsacienne), joined him in Brussels. In 1873, Rodin entered into a contract with the Belgian sculptor Antoine Joseph Van Rasbourgh (1831-1902), also a former employee of Carrier-Belleuse. Their main activity was the decoration of public buildings in Brussels.
His first major work in bronze, "The Age of Bronze", a life-size representation of the young Belgian soldier Auguste Neyt, was created in Belgium and exhibited first in Brussels and then in Paris, where he returned to live in 1877.
In the meantime, the greatest sculptor of his century did not have much rest if we consider what the Belgian capital owes him, as many of his works adorn prominent buildings: the exterior caryatids of the Bourse de Commerce, the statues that crown the wall of the Jardin des Académies on Rue Ducale, the allegory of the provinces for the Throne Room of the Royal Palace, the Atlantes and Caryatids on Boulevard Anspach and even the bust of Beethoven, surrounded by small winged spirits and caryatids, which still adorns the façade of the Royal Conservatory.
In his memoirs, Rodin wrote that he spent the most wonderful years of his life in Belgium; these numerous works are a magnificent testimony to this.