Auguste Rodin – in Paris and Meudon
I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need. ~ Auguste Rodin
Sculpture draws me, as if it wraps a silk scarf about my waist and tugs ever so gently, until I come into the fold. Naturally, Musée Rodin topped my initial list of things to do and see in Paris. But this museum eluded me. First visit – closed. Second visit – a minor ‘strike’. Third visit – a friend’s wallet went missing, before we ever arrived.
Finally, I was able to step into the mansion and through the gardens. The museum is housed in the magnificent 18th-century hôtel particulier known today as Hôtel Biron. Officially opened in 1919, the museum and all of Rodin’s works in plaster, marble, bronze and stone, as well as all of his drawings were given by Rodin to the French nation. What a miracle of time and preservation to be able to see the alabaster marble figures, to fathom the birth of sculpture from sketches and paintings.
And, then, to walk among the garden figures – the shy and shame-filled figures of Adam and Eve, the Gates of Hell and – bien sur! – The Thinker. My husband and I retraced my original steps during a recent visit. Time had taken no edge from the spectacular beauty of Rodin’s works, but we did notice the march of time and tourists over patched parquet floors and well-worn walls.
We were delighted to see that a 16-million Euro restoration took place from 2012 to 2015, restoring the lovely mansion, opening new visiting rooms and renewing the museography of Rodin’s collections. One of the most exciting changes was the redesign of its interior to reveal the creative development of Rodin’s work and that of some of his contemporaries, including Camille Claudel. Visitors now literally see can trace the works’ movement from plaster to completion in bronze or marble. For the first time, we see the sculptor’s genius evolve.
On our return to Paris, we definitely will spend a morning at this lovely museum and end our visit with lunch in the garden. Just imagine – the wonder of visiting Rodin’s enchanting home, immersing yourself in his work, wandering through the sculpture garden and lingering over lunch like privileged guests.
Sadly, there are no more extended evening hours, but no problem. We would not miss this precious experience. We also look to add to our experience with the discovery of The Villa des Brillants, Rodin’s Meudon residence and studios, where he lived with and later married Rose Beurret. They are buried here in Meudon, their tomb dominated by an imposing, full-size copy of The Thinker.
I really can’t help but compare the cost of this dual experience of museums – 13 Euros per person ($13.83) to the cost in Orlando for a movie or museum. Incomparable – and one of the many reasons Paris spoils us!
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