We visited Musee Rodin at the suggestion of friends. Surprised that it hadn’t occurred to either of us to go before now, I’m happy that we saw it for the first time together. It is now one of our favorite museums.
Auguste Rodin, who sculpted the renowned bronze masterpiece, Le Penseur or The Thinker, is also responsible for many other striking sculptures. The breath-taking The Kiss and many other similarly romantic statues are kept here. There are several sculptures depicting his passion for dancers. Some of the more well-known sculptures here include The Hand of God, The Gates of Hell and initial attempts and smaller versions of The Thinker. The museum consists of a series of elaborate gardens that I assume are amazing in the spring and the spectacular Hotel Biron. Hotel, in the French context, in this case refers to a hôtel particulier, which really just means private urban house.
The statues kept outdoors are surrounded by impressive topiaries. When you leave the visitor entrance building, the first thing you see across the expansive courtyard is Rodin’s “Gates of Hell.”
This massive, tragic barrage of pain is the perfect balance of detail and impressionism. From afar, the gate looks harmless enough. Observers must look close to see the sin and death and tragedy in the details. We took our time pouring over each section and even as I look at the pictures now, I see things that I had missed when standing in front of it.
Directly across the courtyard, is The Thinker. A massive, bronze figure that Rodin said “is thinking with every muscle.” It is a large, impressive form that takes time to appreciate. This was Ryan’s favorite statue, of course.
After working our way around the house and through the gardens and statuary, we ventured inside the Hotel Biron. The interior of house is decorated almost exclusively with statues and dim antique mirrors, which allow visitors to appreciate the art from all angles. This was especially appreciated when we saw Hand of God in the picture below.
The Kiss, made of ivory-colored marble is on display in a romantic room in the center of the house with several other magnificently romantic, well-placed pieces and perfectly-aged antique mirrors and doors.
We love the opulent setting the Hotel Biron provides for these exquisite sculptures. The antique mirrors, the extravagant chandeliers, the thoroughly-distressed wood floors and the massive, beautifully-framed windows all create the perfect setting to wholly transport visitors to another time. The building was an important part of this experience. In any other setting, I think the impact and beauty of these statues would be less impressive. I can’t imagine viewing them any other way.
The sculpture below was another favorite. Somewhat reminiscent of Degas, if maybe only for the subject itself, it still reminded me of how much I like Degas. I didn’t realize Rodin was equally fascinated with dancers. Although Rodin was more enamored with free and flowing movement. He thought sculpture must appear as though it could move and now, I think I have a new affinity for Rodin