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Auguste Rodin himself wrote about his intention to use a heroic figure à la Michelangelo to represent Thinking as well as Poetry: "The Thinker has a story. In the days long gone by I conceived the idea of The Gates of Hell. Before the door, seated on the rock, Dante thinking of the plan of the poem behind him... all the characters from The Divine Comedy. This project was not realized. Thin ascetic Dante in his straight robe separated from all the rest would have been without meaning. Guided by my first inspiration I conceived another thinker, a naked man, seated on a rock, his fist against his teeth, he dreams. The fertile thought slowly elaborates itself within his brain. He is no longer a dreamer, he is a creator."

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One of Auguste Rodin's most famous works, Le Penseur, or The Thinker was intended to be a part of Rodin's The Gates of Hell and represent an early Italian Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri pondering The Divine Comedy, his epic story of Paradise and Inferno. However, in 1889 Rodin exhibited the sculpture independently of The Gates, giving it the title The Thinker, and in 1902 he embarked on this larger version. Sculpture The Thinker exists in many marble and bronze editions in several sizes were which were executed in Rodin's lifetime and after. The most famous version is the bronze statue cast in 1904 that sits in the gardens of the Rodin Museum in Paris.

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