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Wonderful museum !!!!
The Musée Rodin 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. The museum receives 700,000 visitors annually.
The Musée Rodin contains most of Rodin's significant creations, including The Thinker, The Kiss and The Gates of Hell. Many of his sculptures are displayed in the museum's extensive garden. The museum is one of the most accessible museums in Paris.
It is located near a Metro stop, Varenne, in a central neighborhood and the entrance fee is very reasonable. The gardens around the museum building contain many of the famous sculptures in natural settings. Behind the museum building is a small lake and casual restaurant.
We spent about 2 hours here and saw everything ... there was literally no one there the day we went ...
Admission was 9 euro's for the gardens and main building ....
Free on the 1st Sunday of each month.
Ugolino and his children, by Auguste Rodin
When I first saw the sculpture Ugolino and his children, by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), my impression was that Ugolino was trying desperately to protect his children, perhaps from wolves or bandits. But I didn’t know the story then.
There really was a man named Ugolino della Gherardesca who lived in the thirteenth century, from about 1220 to 1289. He was an Italian count who was very much involved in the feuds and conflicts of his era. On orders of his enemy, the Archbishop, Ugolino and his sons and grandsons were imprisoned in a tower and left there to starve to death, the keys having been thrown into the river.
This probably would have been forgotten as just another gruesome episode from Italian history, except that Dante Alighieri picked up on the story a quarter century later and used it in his Divine Comedy – in the Inferno part, of course. In Dante’s version, the dying children beg their father to eat their bodies after they have died, and he finally gets so desperate that he does so. For this crime of cannibalism (among other crimes) he is condemned to eternal torture in the ninth circle of hell – along with his enemy, the Archbishop.
In the garden of the Rodin Museum in Paris, a bronze casting of Ugolino and his children is on an island in the middle of a round pond, with other Rodin sculptures around the edges and the Dome of Les Invalides rising up in the background (second photo).
Auguste Rodin originally made this sculpture as part of The Gates of Hell (third photo), but then he also decided to have it cast as a free-standing sculpture.
For a very different depiction of Ugolino and his children, see the painting by Charles-Hippolyte-Émile Lecomte-Vernet (1821-1900) in Paintings in the Calvet Museum on my Avignon page.
Next Paris review from June 2012: The Thinker, by Rodin
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Why that bitter taste?!
Rodin ... without being a specialist in art (arts) or just because I do not know much about it, I can say that I do not like Rodin's sculptures.
Too big, too dark, too heavy...
I was trying to feel their fluidity, their sensibility... nothing. Rodin's bodies are twisted, stressed, I could almost feel the pain in the contortioned bones and muscles.
Probably "The Kiss" could impress me but I haven't seen it yet, as the biggest part of the museum is under renovation (only the price is unchanged).
The only think that I liked is that Rodin gave us, the future viewers, the possibility to complete his works with our minds.
Works of art are actually windows to ourselves and this is why each of us sees so different a sculpture, a painting.
His sculptures, finished/polished/refined by our minds would be really impressive, especially for Rodin.
However, after I visited the Rodin museum, I understood exactly why Brancusi did not want to work with Rodin, saying "nothing grows in the shade of a tall tree"... he was just trying to be polite
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Last visit April 2014
The museum, devoted to the works of French artist Auguste Rodin, is located in the former Hotel Biron near Invalides. The state bought the Hotel in 1911 and Rodin agreed to donate his entire collection of sculptures and drawings along with his photographs and archives if they devoted a museum to him. They did just that although a couple of years after his death.
Although there's quite a bit to see inside, the warmer months are a better time to visit as many of the sculptures are outside in the garden, a nice place to have a picnic lunch amidst some of his most well known works such as The Thinker, The Burghers of Calais, The Gates of Hell and one of his many statues of Balzac. Come to think of it, you might not to gaze upon Balzac while eating, he's definitely someone that should have never been sculpted in the nude!
Invalides, where Napoleon is buried and also houses the Army Museum, is just a couple of minutes away on foot if you are looking to group sights together.
The sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), lived and worked in the Hôtel Biron in Paris for the last decade of his life. (The word Hôtel is used here in the old sense, meaning mansion.) In his will, he left the building and most of his sculptures to the French state, for use as a museum.
The main building was being renovated and reorganized when I was there in 2012, but half the building was open and there was an excellent (though temporary) exhibition of Rodin’s major works, along with several sculptures by his student, muse, colleague and lover Camille Claudel (1864–1943).
In 1883 Rodin made a bust (second photo) of the great French writer Victor Hugo (second photo), the author of Notre-Dame de Paris 1482, among many other works.
Much later, in 1909, Rodin made this bust (third photo) of the composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).
Among the many Rodin sculptures on display is this one (fourth photo) called La Prière (The Prayer), which is also from the year 1909.
At the museum bookshop I bought this book (fifth photo) about the life and work of Camille Claudel, who was a very talented sculptress in her own right and a tragic figure because her family committed her to an insane asylum for the last thirty years of her life.
In 1988 a notable French film was made about Camille Claudel. It was directed by Bruno Nuytten, co-produced by Isabelle Adjani, and it starred her and Gérard Depardieu. The film was based on a book by Reine-Marie Paris, who also co-authored the (more recent) book I bought at the museum. Reine-Marie Paris is the granddaughter of Camille's brother, the poet and diplomat Paul Claudel, so that would make her the great-niece of Camille Claudel.
I once saw an opera staging that was inspired by Camille Claudel’s fate. It was a staging in Hannover of Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). In this staging, Lucia does not die at the end, but is secretly committed to an insane asylum by her family. An actress plays Lucia as an old woman. She is on the stage throughout the opera, re-living her memories of her traumatic experiences when she was younger.
Next review from June 2012: Ugolino and his children, by Rodin
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Camille Claudel at the Rodin Museum
In October 2013 the Rodin Museum presented an exhibition of twenty-two sculptures of Camille Claudel (1864-1943), including some that have not been on display for several years during the ongoing renovation of the museum.
The exposition’s introductory brochure says that Camille Claudel “has become an almost too familiar figure today: her stormy love affair with Rodin and her long, tragic internment in a mental asylum have often eclipsed her bold, experimental art and her distinguished career.”
Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the exhibition, but some of her works can be seen on the museum’s website -- and of course there is one on the exhibition posters and brochure, Les Causeuses (The Gossips), which she created in 1897 using onyx and bronze.
Île Saint Louis: Quai d’Anjou & Quai de Bourbon
More opera performances in Hannover
Next Paris review from October 2013: Musée Jacquemart-André
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This celebrity sculptor was far from impoverished!
Looking at the Musée Rodin - which was Rodin's studio for the latter period of his life - the one stereotype that Auguste Rodin didn't live up to was that of 'impoverished artist'!
The museum is housed in Hôtel Biron - which served as Rodin's studio from 1908 - and is located on Rue de Varenne, in an area that would have been upmarket even at the time. It had previously served as a school and the grand proportions of both the building and the gardens which surround it reflect the titanic reputation that Rodin enjoyed as a celebrity sculptor in the latter part of his career.
On his death, Rodin bequeathed both the house and the majority of his work to the French State on condition that it was converted into a museum to his memory, and the museum remains remarkable in that it is the only French national museum that is entirely self-supporting and receives no form of state subsidy - a telling testament to Rodin's enduring popularity and touristic 'pulling power'. So although Paris can be an expensive city for tourists - especially if you're only there for a short period and want to fit in as much as possible - rather vent your ire on the admission prices at other tourist attractions rather than this fabulously interesting and attractive museum, which at least pays its own way!
Also, to maximise discounts, look at investing in the combined 'passporte' between Musee d'Orsay and Musee Rodin, since if you want to see one, you're almost guaranteed to want to visit both. And if you have the intention of visiting any other of Paris' many art galleries or museums, strongly consider investing in the Paris Museum Pass (see the website below), which at €35 for two days and €50 for four days at the time of writing (October 2011), could offer a considerable saving,depending on how much of a 'culture vulture' you are.
The wonderful Rodin Museum doesn't seem to feature in many Paris travel reviews. We spent a wonderful couple of hours walking around the beautiful gardens marvelling at the wonderful Rodin sculptures. Worth adding to your list of Paris sights to see.
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Take time out to relax in the Musée Rodin gardens
The gardens surrounding the Musée Rodin are absolutely lovely, and a wonderfully serene place to kick back and relax for an hour or so, particularly on a hot summer's day.
The gardens at the front of the museum are designed in a formal French style, which I have to confess is not really to my taste. I don't share the Latin enthusiasm for gravel walkways - murderous on feet and footwear alike - and I'm not wildly keen on formal rose gardens either (see my tip on 'lining up icons' for a photo), but that's just my personal taste, and I will happily concede that it is very well done.
The rest of the gardens are less formal, and incorporate grassy lawns and lots of trees, which lend welcome shade. There is a pond and fountain in the section of the garden behind the museum, and there are leafy chestnut-lined walkways that are soothing to body and soul just to look at after a hard day's sightseeing. There is a playground for kids, and they will also enjoy playing hide and seek in the more wooded sections of the grounds.
There is also a pleasant looking cafe in the gardens, which sells nice looking salads, quiches and the like, although I haven't ever eaten there.
It is possible just to visit the gardens (which also include bronzes of the Burghers of Calais and The Thinker as well as some more minor works) at a paltry cost of €1, which is excellent value for money. The only potential downside to this scheme is that you'll still have to join the queue for tickets, which can be quite long during busy periods - unless you have bought a Paris Museum pass or a combined 'passport' with the Musée d'Orsay - since it doesn't seem to be possible to book online for the gardens alone.
Whereas the drama of the life of Camille Claudel (see the French film of 1988 with Isabelle Adjani and Gerard Depardieu) finds its cause in the rupture between the Master Rodin and his pupil and mistress Camille Claudel in 1898 after a love affair which began in 1884, it is at the hotel Biron that one can see a selection of fifteen sculptures among the best of Camille Claudel.
Rodin, who planned this museum, wanted works of Camille to be exposed here.
Camille (who was the sister of the writer Paul Claudel) never recovered from the rupture with Rodin. Camille Claudel developed persecution delirium and was interned in 1913 by her family in an asylum until her death in 1943.
The two artists influenced themselves mutually as it arises from the “Young girl with a sheaf” of 1887 (photo 1). Very moving is the bronze group called “The age of maturity” which shows Camille on her knees imploring Rodin not to abandon her (photo 2).
I liked very much “the Wave” (1900) where she uses onyx and approaches a new style resulting from the "japonism" (photo 3). Quite beautiful is this marble sculpture "Vertumne and Pomone" (from the Metamorphoses of Ovide) made in 1905 (photo 4).
Alors que le drame de la vie de Camille Claudel (voir le film français de 1988 avec Isabelle Adjani et Gérard Depardieu) trouve sa cause dans la rupture entre les deux amants survenue en 1898 après une liaison qui débuta en 1884 entre le maître Rodin et son élève Camille Claudel, c'est à l'hôtel Biron que l'on peut voir une sélection de quinze sculptures parmi les meilleures de Camille Claudel. C'était la volonté de Rodin même que les œuvres de Camille soient exposées dans ce musée projeté par Rodin.
On sait que Camille (qui était la sœur de l'écrivain Paul Claudel) ne se remit jamais de cette rupture et qu'elle fut internée en 1913 par sa famille dans un asile jusqu'à sa mort en 1943.
Les deux artistes s'influencent mutuellement comme il ressort de la "Jeune Fille à la gerbe" de 1887 (photo 1)
Emouvant est le bronze appelé "Age mûr" qui montre Camille à genoux implorant Rodin de ne pas l'abandonner (photo 2). J'ai beaucoup aimé "la Vague" (1900) où elle utilise l'onyx et aborde un nouveau style issu du japonisme (photo 3). De toute beauté est le marbre "Vertumne et Pomone" (Métamorphoses d'Ovide) sculpté en 1905.
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Don't overlook Camille Claudel's gorgeous work!
If you needed yet more persuasion that the Musée Rodin was worth visiting - and, if by now I haven't convinced you, I should perhaps be giving up on you as an irredeemable philistine - my last throw of the dice is the exquisite work of Camille Claudel, Rodin's protege and mistress, to which one room of the museum is devoted. The museum also features several images of Claudel by Rodin.
Camille Claudel came from a middle class family, and although they disapproved of her adulterous relationship with the much older and married Rodin, her father supported her career choice and lent her financial support throughout his life. However, she was prone to mental instability, and aborted the child she had conceived with Rodin which did little to aid her mental state. After her father's death, her brother took the difficult decision to have her committed to a mental asylum at Montfavet and she tragically spent the last thirty years of her life there.
To see Claudel as being important just because of her association with Rodin is to do her an injustice, as she was a phenomenally gifted sculptor who deserves recognition for her own artistic merits. Female sculptors - especially at the end of the nineteeth century - were not common, and her sensitive treatment of particularly female subjects is very moving.
Interestingly, I find that over the years, my taste in her work has changed. When I first visited, I was utterly bewitched by her miniature onyx and bronze group of women called 'The Gossips'. This time around, I still marvelled at them, but found myself far more taken by this lifesize bust of a schoolgirl - maybe because the girl depicted wouldn't have been very much older than my own daughter.
For those interested in learning more about Camille Claudel, I would highly recommend the 1988 movie version of her life, starring the impossibly beautiful Isabelle Adjani as Camille and the irascible Gerard Depardieu as Rodin. Is it historically accurate? I really have no idea, but it's so exquisitely filmed and evocative of the era that I didn't care, and I suspect you won't either!
Be organised and arrange your icons in a line!
This is the Happy Snapper's version of 'getting your ducks in a row'!
From the gardens of Musée Rodin, it is possible to line up his iconic 'The Thinker' right in front of the equally iconic Eiffel Tower. Just bring a longer lens than I did!
And for my fellow triva lovers, at least some of the roses in the foreground are actually named in Rodin's honour.
Start early on your kid's cultural education
This is a simply brilliant idea - and just another excuse to visit the stunning Musée Rodin!
At the desk where you check your baggage (which you have to do before visiting the indoor section of the museum), it is possible to hire a 'baby backpack' free of charge. All you have to do is to swap it for a photo identity document (passport, driver's licence or other) and they will issue you with one of these backpacks free, gratis and for nothing - obviously subject to availability.
Thumbs up to the Rodin museum on behalf of fellow travellers who don't want to let parenthood completely clip their cultural wings!
See one Rodin sculpture even if you're skint ...
Although I would argue that the Musée Rodin is excellent value for money (and, interestingly enough, the only French national museum that is entirely self supporting in a financial sense), there is no disputing that Paris can be tough on those travelling on a tight budget, and in a city packed full of 'must see' attractions, it isn't always going to be possible to afford to do everything you might like.
If you really don't think that you can afford the admission fee (€6 at the time of writing in October 2011) or simply don't have time to do it justice, then it is possible to see at least one Rodin sculpture - the Burghers of Calais (coincidentally my all time favourite) - through a large window set into the wall of the museum property along Rue des Varenne. If you are walking down Boulevard des Invalides, you can also catch a peek at a couple of more minor works in the museum garden through the railings.
However, be aware that another budget-friendly option is to simply pay the €1 admission fee for the gardens - which you'd really have to be on the bones of your backside not to be able to afford - or invest in the Paris Museum card. Admission to the garden allows you to visit the bronzes displayed in the museum grounds, including the Burghers of Calais and The Thinker. However, on my recent visit, the display that most caught my imagination was the very interesting series of half-finished sculptures which are displayed behind glass (which unfortunately don't photograph at all well). There you can almost see the rock 'melting' away to reveal the form of the sculpture that Rodin had envisaged emerging from inside, which gives you a heady sense of being inside the artist's head - very special indeed. See my travel tip on the Rodin museum garden for more details.
I am amused to note that however old you get, you never quite lose those frugal backpacker instincts!
Back garden and pond.
The park at the back of the Biron hotel is one of my preferred green places in Paris.
I am not alone to feel so when I see Parisians installed for their midday pose on the comfortable seats located at the back of the ornamental pond.
The entry to the garden costs 1 € but there exists a yearly subscription for 15€. If you do not have enough time to visit the museum, just walk through the garden where you will see 25 sculptures of Rodin. These are often bronze sculptures whose models, sometimes in other materials, are inside. The sculptures of Rodin, carried out in a uniform black and glossy bronze, are nicer when they take a little patina outside.
I particularly liked, under the trees, the individual statues of the “Burghers of Calais” like this Jacques de Wissant (photo 2).
The most remarkable sculpture is however that of “Ugolin” in the middle of the pond. It is a dramatic history (from Dante's “Divine comedy”) that of the count Ugolin, walled up with his sons in the prison which will become their tomb, and who starving ends up eating his dead children (photo 1).
Garden open: Each day, closed on Monday.
1/04 - 30/09 from 10.00 till 18.00 h
1/10 - 31/03 from 10.00 till 17.00 h
Entry price garden: 1€
On Wednesdays, you can visit the Rodin Museum at night!
Every Wednesday, the permanent collection, located in the Hôtel Biron and the Rodin exhibition, "La chair et le marbre" close at 20.45.. The garden of the Rodin Museum closes at dusk.
Le parc à l'arrière de l'hôtel Biron est un des endroits verts de Paris que je préfère.
Je ne suis pas seul je crois à l'aimer car des Parisiens s'installent pour leur pose de midi sur les sièges confortables situés à l'arrière de la pièce d'eau. L'entrée au jardin coûte 1 € mais il existe un abonnement annuel à 15€. Si vous n'avez pas le temps de visiter le musée passer juste au jardin vous y verrez 25 sculptures de Rodin. Ce sont souvent des sculptures en bronze dont les modèles, parfois en d'autres matériaux, se trouvent à l'intérieur. Il faut remarquer que les sculptures de Rodin, réalisées en un bronze uniformément noir et brillant, sont mieux mis en valeur quand ils prennent un peu de patine à l'extérieur.
J'ai particulièrement aimé, sous les arbres, les statues individuelles des "Bourgeois de Calais" comme ce Jacques de Wissant (photo 2).
La plus remarquable sculpture est cependant celle de "Ugolin" au milieu du bassin aquatique. C'est une dramatique histoire (tirée de la "Divine Comédie") que celle du comte Ugolin, muré avec ses fils dans la prison qui doit devenir leur tombeau, et qui affamé finit par manger ses enfants morts (photo 1).
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