The Rodin museum is not far from Les Invalides as you can see from this picture above of Rodin’s famous statue, Le Penseur, in among a jungle of roses and trimmed cedars.This is what really makes this museum special, there is an indoor section but much of the collection is set outdoors in a beautiful and serene setting.
The Musée Rodin in Paris, France, is a museum that was opened in 1919, dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It has two sites, at the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds in central Paris, and just outside Paris at Rodin’s old home, the Villa des Brillants at Meudon (Hauts-de-Seine). The collection includes 6,600 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs and 7,000 objets d’art, and the museum receives 700,000 visitors annually.
While living in the Villa des Brillants Rodin used the Hôtel Biron as his workshop from 1908, and subsequently donated his entire collection of sculptures (along with paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir that he had acquired) to the French State on the condition that they turn the buildings into a museum dedicated to his works.
I am going to include a few of his works that I particularly like but I have many more photos that I will try to use in a gallery.
This lovely marble bust of a child nestled her blanket was really lovely but I forgot to find an attribution or name. You can almost feel the warm softness of the blanket against he soft skin of the child.
Two early works are the “Young Mousquetaire” (1879) seen above left and “Le Sommeil” (1874) seen above right.
The sculpture above is one of the famous (or infamous) nude studies of Balzac (1892) and my favorite. He is portrayed as a powerful and confident man in a very realistic portrayal. The bronze between his legs was not necessary to support the statue, it is an integral part of the composition, as if the strength of the earth itself is being thrust up into his form. In 1891, Rodin received a commission from the Société des Gens de Lettres, a literary society, for a monument honoring the great 19th-century writer Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850). He often began his sculptures by making nude studies such as this. At this early stage, Rodin wanted the sculpture to not only resemble the writer, but also to suggest the power of Balzac’s literary genius, expressed here through the figure’s confident and commanding pose.
Above is the head of Balzac as shown in the final monument (1899). Instead of the designated eighteen-month period of time, Rodin employed a lengthy seven years to finish the work. Rodin became infatuated with the literature of his subject as well as researched the character and personality of Balzac, similar to the writer’s own approach to character development. In preparation for the sculpture, Rodin read the author’s works as well as traveled numerous times to the author’s hometown of Touraine France in order to sketch and model clay portrait studies from individuals with similar likeness to the novelist although Rodin never saw him in person. Rodin had clothes resembling those of the Balzac’s made by the writer’s former tailor, using a cloak similar to Balzac’s writing cloak for his final statue.
In the final version of the monument, Balzac’s deeply modeled head and face burst forth from a smooth span of drapery that envelops his body. When Balzac was exhibited in 1898, the negative reaction was not surprising. The Société rejected the work, and the press ran parodies. Criticizing the work, Morey (1918) reflected, “there may come a time, and doubtless will come a time, when it will not seem outre to represent a great novelist as a huge comic mask crowning a bathrobe, but even at the present day this statue impresses one as slang.” A modern critic, indeed, indicates that Balzac is one of Rodin’s masterpieces. The monument had its supporters in Rodin’s day; a manifesto defending him was signed by Monet and Debussy, among many others.
Rather than try to convince skeptics of the merit of the monument, Rodin repaid the Société his commission and moved the figure to his garden. After this experience, Rodin did not complete another public commission. Only in 1939 was Monument to Balzac cast in bronze.
Above left you see a nude study of John D’Aire (1886) and above right is “Eve” (1883). I find the contrast between these two sculptures to be the essence of man and woman. John D’Aire could not be more “in your face” wirely masculine, while Eve is the essence of shy, curvaceous and almost virginal feminity. Rodin’s bronze Eve, grand modele—version sans rocher (a copy of above right) sold for $18.9 million at a 2008 Christie’s auction in New York. Because Rodin gave the statues and the right to make plasters to France, the authenticity of a “real Rodin” has been defined by France as 12 castings from the artists original plasters.
Sculptural fragments to Rodin were autonomous works, and he considered them the essence of his artistic statement. His fragments—perhaps lacking arms, legs, or a head—took sculpture further from its traditional role of portraying likenesses, and into a realm where forms existed for their own sake. The Walking Man (1899-1900) seen to the left, is a bold sculpture exhibited as his major one-person show in 1900. This is composed of two sculptures from the 1870s that Rodin found in his studio — a broken and damaged torso that had fallen into neglect and the lower extremities of a statuette version of his 1878 St. John the Baptist Preaching. When you look carefully, the legs really don’t “fit” the torso (two different styles).
Since clay deteriorates rapidly if not kept wet or fired into a terra-cotta, sculptors used plaster casts as a means of securing the composition they would make out of the fugitive material that is clay. This was common practice amongst Rodin’s contemporaries, and sculptors would exhibit plaster casts with the hopes that they would be commissioned to have the works made in a more permanent material. Rodin, however, would have multiple plasters made and treat them as the raw material of sculpture, recombining their parts and figures into new compositions with new names. As Rodin’s practice developed into the 1890s, he became more and more radical in his pursuit of fragmentation, the combination of figures at different scales, and the making of new compositions from his earlier work.
The gardens of the museum are the real pleasure of visiting, they are shady, uncrowded and pleasant. The sculpture seen above is “Monument to Hugo”, not cast in bronze until 1964. The statue depicts a seated Victor Hugo listening to a muse on a surface at the level of his ear. Commissioned to create a monument to French writer Victor Hugo in 1889, Rodin dealt extensively with the subject of artist and muse. Like many of Rodin’s public commissions,Monument to Victor Hugo was met with resistance because it did not fit conventional expectations. Commenting on Rodin’s monument to Victor Hugo, The Times in 1909 expressed that “there is some show of reason in the complaint that [Rodin’s] conceptions are sometimes unsuited to his medium, and that in such cases they overstrain his vast technical powers”.
The gardens are large with a large reflecting pool. There is time and room for reading, sketching the statues, sunbathing or just enjoying the day.
There a small cafe with snacks and ice creme which made us even more reluctant to leave. We had a wonderful day at the Rodin museum.