The Rodin Museum in Paris in its updated style, houses sculptures, drawings, and work in progress of Auguste Rodin. The museum is in the former Hotel Biron estate, where the artist lived for the last years of his life. The mansion was also home to painter Henri Matisse and dancer Isadora Duncan. Rodin was the only tenant from 1911 until his death in 1918.
The gardens welcome you to wander and enjoy the sculptures scattered throughout. The Thinker, Rodin’s premier artwork, sits just inside the entrance. It is quite intriguing to come upon this detailed artwork sitting among a ring of brightly colored flowers, hidden by tall bushes until you walk through a clearing. You can move all the way around and view The Thinker from different angles. It’s amazing to stand in the presence of Rodin’s masterpiece. A rose garden, tree-lined lanes, wide lawns, and terraces make up the garden area. The many bronze versions of Rodin’s iconic works on display include The Monument to the Burghers of Calais, The Gates of Hell and of course, The Thinker. So even if you’re not a fan of museums, you can find plenty to marvel over here.
Inside the Rodin Museum, the displays are arranged chronologically. You can rent an audio guide that will explain in detail some of the holdings of the museum. I found this helpful, though the guide focuses on only a few pieces in each of the many rooms.
On the ground floor you see examples of the artist’s training. Many sketches and unfinished works are in the museum. This allows you to understand the experiments Rodin used to come up with his final masterpieces. Models and unfinished works give you a glimpse into the creative process.
The wide, winding staircase to the upper floor leads to displays showing that Rodin not only produced art but he also collected it. Some of his personal holdings are on display here, such as a painting titled “Père Tanguy” by Vincent Van Gogh.
The museum was created by Rodin in 1916 when he donated to the French state his own work as well as his collections. Rodin wrote, a few years before his death:
“I give the State all my works in plaster, marble, bronze and stone, and my drawings, as well as the collection of antiquities that I had such pleasure in assembling for the education and training of artists and workers. And I ask the State to keep all these collections in the Hôtel Biron, which will be the Musée Rodin, reserving the right to reside there all my life.”
Because of his generosity, anyone can enjoy Rodin’s art today.
Sitting behind walls, the Rodin Museum is easy to walk by and miss. Look for the hanging red sign in the 7th arrondissement, just across the street from the Invalides, with its very visible golden dome. The former chapel now contains the ticket office, a gift shop, and changing exhibits. Open every day except Tuesday, the museum is $10 for adults and $7 for youth. Check the website for more information.
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