Monday, March 2, 2009

Le Musée Rodin

Considering the topic of my college thesis was on Auguste Rodin, I don’t think I could ever get enough of his breathtaking works. He helped to define twentieth century art with his ingenious sculptures. While it is true that the artist authorized several castings of his works, even after his
death, so that many of his great pieces, such as The Kiss and the The Thinker can be viewed by admirers around the world first hand, there is something magical about seeing so many of his imaginings all in one placeThat is where Le Musee Rodin comes into the picture.

Located in the Hôtel Biron in Paris, a collection of Auguste Rodin’s finest works are housed here. One can meander through the home or take a stroll outside to view his larger pieces. For a mere 4,00 € * it is possible to rent an audio-guide that will share information about Rodin’s works as well as the history of the building.

For those of you who want to start your history lesson now, the home was originally built between 1728 and 1730 for a wig maker named Abraham Peyrenc de Moras who lived there only until 1732 at the time of his death. In 1753 the building was sold to the Maréchal de Biron. It was he who gave the museum its current name. Interestingly enough, the building was originally meant to be demolished, but circumstances led this great home to be rented out inexpensively to artists and writers. Rodin must have loved this old building, because in 1911, he offered his collection of art to the state under the provision that his works must be housed at the Hôtel Biron. Hence, the museum was born. It seems only appropriate that we tip our hats to Monsieur Rodin for not only sharing his works with us, but saving this lovely home for posterity, as well.

The home sits on three hectares of land, where one can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gardens to see Rodin’s larger works. You will first happen on The Burghers of Calais when entering the gardens. Visit The Gates of Hell which incorporates smaller versions of many of his great works such as The Thinker, The Three Shades and others on its two panels. Ugolino and his Children is beautifully situated in the middle of a pond. His representation of the infamous Honore de Balzac among others are also resting peacefully in the gardens.

While in the garden, take a gander at one of the most famous sculptures of all time. Simply called, The Thinker, this bronze is located in the garden while a smaller version rests upstairs in the house. This impressive piece inspires not only students and intellects, but all who appreciate art. One wonders what this man is pondering, but the truth is it doesn’t really matter. We literally feel the depth of his thought process, inspiring us to think deeply, as well.

After your trek through the exterior, take a peak at what's inside. The museum hosts two levels of primarily marble and bronze works by Rodin. It is here where you will find actual casts of some of the sculptures. For example, visit the room upstairs which shows the evolution of the Balzac sculpture. Rodin originally portrayed this famous French author looking like the man that he was, but through time he created more of Balzac’s spiritual formation. One critic at the time, offended by the piece, actually said that this was the first time he ever saw brains on the outside of one’s head. While it is traditionally not a beautiful piece, it does peak an interest to the viewer for its inner representation of the writer.

The Kiss is located downstairs and is certainly a favorite. This sensuous piece inspires lovers young and old and is one of Rodin’s most famous sculptures. It is presented here in both marble as well as its terracotta cast.

Also, meander through the room that hosts works by Rodin's most famous student (and lover) Camille Claudel. A sculptor in her own right, her professional life was cut short as she sank into the darkness of insanity and had to be institutionalized for much of her adult life. If you are interested in seeing the adaption of Rodin and Claudel’s life together, Isabelle Adjani and Gerard Depardieu star in a fantastic film that I highly recommend entitled simply Camille Claudel.

Whether you are interested in his small works or large, Le Musée Rodin should be on your list of must sees.

As of 2009 the rate for the museum is 6,00 €. However, if you visit on the first Sunday of the month it is free. It is open every day except Mondays.

*Audio-guide rate was as of 2009. Check the website for current pricing.

Summer Opening Hours (April to September):
Museum and Boutique: 9.30 a.m. to 5.45 p.m.
Hôtel Biron at 5h45 p.m.
Garden closes at 6.45 p.m.
Last entry at 5.15 p.m.

Winter Opening Hours (October to March):
Museum and Boutique: 9.30 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.
Hôtel Biron at 4h45 p.m.
Garden closes at 5 p.m.
Last entry at 4.15 p.m.

79 Rue de Varenne
75007 Paris
Telephone: 01 44 18 61 10
METRO : Varenne

Thank you for reading and bonne journée!