In 1894 Rodin was invited to design a monument to labor for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. It was to be as enduring a symbol of the coming 1900 Exposition as the Tour Eiffel had been for the Exposition in 1889. Rodin proposed a 100-foot-tall tower – reminiscent of Leonardo’s staircase at the Château de Blois – on a 24-foot-wide base. A center column was to be covered in bas-reliefs depicting “respectable” laborers. At the base would be two figures: Night and Day. Atop the tower would be The Benedictions, described by Rodin as “two winged geniuses who descend from heaven, like a beneficent rain, to bless the work of men.”
Rodin’s depiction of these two creatures emphasizes their lavish wings, as if their size was necessary to slow down the descent from heaven. The wings provide this piece with a generous art nouveau sensibility, very au current during the last decade of the Nineteenth Century. Although Rodin said he was not a fan of the highly decorative style known as art nouveau, it is clear that he could not escape its influences on his work. The Tower to Labor was never built.