The Musee Rodin in Paris is, as the name suggests, a showcase of the works of the renowned French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. In addition, you will find here many aspects of Rodin’s life – Rodin the art collector, Rodin the painter, Rodin the person and of course, there is a collection of sketches he made prior to transforming these into sculptural masterpieces.
The place used to be the Hotel Biron, which was Rodin’s residence since the early 1900s. The chic 18th century hotel, along with its surrounding grounds, was converted into a museum upon the sculptor’s behest. Rodin donated his works, along with his art collection to the state, on the condition that the hotel be turned into a museum. The recipient, which was the French State, gladly complied. Auguste Rodin is known and considered to be the father of modern sculpture, so much so because his works were, during his time, considered controversial.
Here, you will find the most popular of Rodin’s creations – the Kiss and the Thinker. What is unique about the museum is that most of the works are not in the galleries. The extensive gardens are themselves turned into galleries to serve as a refreshing setting to his many sculptures. In the gardens, over 2,000 rosebushes as well as trees, evergreens and ferns provide an excellent counterpoint to his works.
You will find the Thinker at the courtyard, as you enter the museum premises. Standing opposite to the Thinker is the unfinished Gates of Hell, which is a monumental door originally intended for the Museum of Decorative Arts. It is inspired by scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy and Rodin worked on this piece for 37 years.
Other works you must see include The Age of Bronze, Eternal Springtime and the Burghers of Calais. The last of these was commissioned by the city of Calais to commemorate a special moment in their history. The piece is about six brave citizens who offered themselves up as a ransom in order for King Edward III to end a siege, which involved the Calais Port. Other marvelous works include the Crouching Woman, the Prodigal Son, the Nude of Balzec and Monument to Balzac.
Aside from his works, you will also view his art collection. These include paintings he owned, plaster casts, reproductions, photographs and sketches. There is even a room that is entirely devoted to Camille Claudel’s works. Claudel is said to be Rodin’s mistress, as well as his model.
The hotel itself has an interesting history. It was originally built by Abraham Peyrenc, a hairdresser in the 17th century. It then became a boarding school for women until it was turned into a hotel. It was to be demolished and replaced by rental apartments, but was saved because of Rodin’s plea for it to be kept in its current condition in exchange for his masterpieces.
Visit the museum and gain fresh insights into one of France’s greatest sculptors. It has over six thousand works in various mediums. So, you will see not just marble sculptures, but works made out of stoneware, terracotta, bronze, plaster, molten glass and wax. These works are shared with the Villa des Brillants in Meudon.
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