Rodin sculpted numerous bozzetti – small scale sculptures of hands, feet, heads and torsos – from which he would create larger assemblages, and his belief that the part merited as much attention as the whole made him unique and radically modern. His fascination with hands in particular went beyond anatomical interest.
Following the death of his sister in 1862, he turned away from art and briefly joined a Catholic order as a monk. It was the congregation’s leader who recognised Rodin’s talent, encouraging him to return to sculpture. Rodin believed that his God-given craftsmanship made itself known via his hands, and viewed them as a symbol of both God as a creator and of the creative process.