This figure originally held a spear and was called "The Vanquished" to symbolize France's 1870 defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Like many of Auguste Rodin's works, however, this piece has several meanings and also refers to the ancient Greek and Roman traditions of sculpting Classical male nudes. When Rodin exhibited "The Age of Bronze" at the Salon des Beaux-Arts in 1877, it aroused great controversy. He had removed the figure's spear and retitled the work, causing viewers to question his subject matter. More importantly, however, the bronze was so lifelike that critics accused Rodin of having it cast directly from a male model. Insulted by this accusation, Rodin began using a more exaggerated modeling technique that emphasized the expressive qualities of the human figure, so that his works could never again be mistaken for life casts.