The Rodin Museum is a museum ensuring since 1919 the conservation and dissemination of the work of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). It has two sites: the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds in central Paris, as well as just outside Paris at Rodin’s old home, the Villa des Brillants at Meudon, Hauts-de-Seine. The establishment maintains a collection made up of nearly 6,800 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 10,000 old photographs and 8,000 other works of art. With 700,000 visitors per year, the Rodin Museum is one of the most important French museums.
The Musée Rodin in Paris, France, is a museum that was opened in 1919, primarily dedicated to the works of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Situated in the heart of Paris, the Musée Rodin benefits from an exceptional location a few steps from the Eiffel Tower and the Invalides. Comprising an 18th-century mansion and a sculpture garden which covers some 3 hectares the museum houses sculptures by Rodin.
The Hôtel Biron, a charming rococo mansion and its gardens. covering 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of land in Paris, was completed in 1730 by Jean Aubert. While living in the Villa des Brillants, Rodin used the Hôtel Biron as his workshop from 1908. The perfect harmony of this garden laid out around Rodin’s monuments and the new visitor circuit within the hôtel Biron.
The gardens around the museum building contain many of the famous sculptures in natural settings. The 3-hectare garden is one of the most popular parts of the museum. Here, visitors will find some of the artist’s most famous sculptures such as The Gates of Hell, Balzac, The Thinker and Bourgeois de Calais, all surrounded by a charming landscape. Behind the museum building are a small lake and casual restaurant. Additionally, the nearby Métro stop, Varenne, features some of Rodin’s sculptures on the platform.
Rodin donated his work and the artwork he had collected throughout his life so that they could be shown in the Hotel Biron, where he had lived since 1908. The artwork is made up of 6,500 sculptures made out of marble, bronze, terracotta, plaster and some 10,000 drawings including lithographs, watercolours and engravings. His entire collection of sculptures, along with paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir that he had acquired.
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 includes a room dedicated to the works of Camille Claudel and one of the two castings of The Mature Age.
Rodin created many busts of friends and famous figures, including the French writer Victor Hugo, the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, and the English socialite-turned-writer Vita Sackville-West. Many of these creations are found in the museum. The Bronze Age (1876), one of his early statues, was inspired by a trip to Italy, where Rodin studied the sculptures of the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo.
François Auguste René Rodin was a French sculptor, generally considered the founder of modern sculpture. He was schooled traditionally and took a craftsman-like approach to his work. Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, and deeply pocketed surface in clay. He is known for such sculptures as The Thinker, Monument to Balzac, The Kiss, The Burghers of Calais, and The Gates of Hell. Rodin remains one of the few sculptors widely known outside the visual arts community.
Many of Rodin’s most notable sculptures were criticized, as they clashed with predominant figurative sculpture traditions in which works were decorative, formulaic, or highly thematic. Rodin’s most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory. He modeled the human body with naturalism, and his sculptures celebrate individual character and physicality. Although Rodin was sensitive to the controversy surrounding his work, he refused to change his style, and his continued output brought increasing favor from the government and the artistic community.
From the unexpected naturalism of Rodin’s first major figure – inspired by his 1875 trip to Italy – to the unconventional memorials whose commissions he later sought, his reputation grew, and Rodin became the preeminent French sculptor of his time. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist. Wealthy private clients sought Rodin’s work after his World’s Fair exhibit, and he kept company with a variety of high-profile intellectuals and artists.
In 1916, a year before his death, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) donated all of his work and property to the French state. In return, the State bought the Hôtel Biron and undertook to transform it into a museum dedicated to the artist. The Paris site opened to the public in 1919, that of Meudon in 1948. This donation is the founding act of the Rodin Museum, forever preserving the alchemy between an exceptional place in the heart of one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris with the creations of the most prestigious sculptor of the time.
Perceived as a haven of peace in the heart of the capital, at the heart of a French garden, the collections of the greatest French sculptor are presented in an 18th century private mansion. The beauty of the place and the works makes it a place of rare harmony. Created thanks to the donation that Rodin made to the French State in 1916, the Rodin Museum is one of the most visited museums in Paris.
The Rodin Museum has the distinction of being a museum installed in a place chosen by the artist himself. Built in 1732 by the architect Jean Aubert, this delightful rock garden-type mansion was discovered in a state close to abandonment by Rodin in 1908. He rented the four rooms on the ground floor before occupying the together from 1911. In these places, the sculptor prepares what will become, on August 4, 1919, the Rodin museum.
Located at the corner of rue de Varenne and boulevard des Invalides, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The hotel is surrounded by an exceptional estate, in the heart of Paris. the old 19th century chapel, built during the time of the religious congregation and restored in 2005, houses a completely renovated exhibition hall, a new auditorium, as well as the ticket office and the administration of the museum.
The garden extends over three wooded hectares – the area of the park of the Hôtel Matignon, reputed to be the largest private green space in Paris – and is embellished with a pond and a cafeteria. Visitors stroll through the monumental sculptures by Rodin that are displayed there.
House, workshop, park: everything is gathered in Meudon to discover in a unique experience the sculpture and the world of Rodin. Bathed in light thanks to the large bay windows overlooking the garden, the tour of the rooms of the museum is an enchantment constantly renewed over the seasons. Depending on the time of day, the sculptures take on a new appearance thanks to the continuous play of light on the volumes.
The museum keeps collections of great diversity because Rodin was an artist collector; it mainly presents sculptures and a few paintings, because old drawings and photographs cannot, for conservation reasons, be exhibited permanently in the dedicated gallery on the first floor.
Rodin’s sculptures are the work of an artist who chose to defy the norms of his time. Among the works of his youth, Man with a Broken Nose appears out of step with contemporary aesthetic norms, while The Age of Bronze rejects contemporary mechanisms of physical expression. This absence of artifice, like the nudity of The Thinker or Adam and Eve guarantees the timelessness of Rodin’s works.
The artist also stands out by the monumental aspect of some of his works: Balzac, The Burghers of Calais or the impressive, unfinished The Gates of Hell, which contains many elements representing the major works of Rodin (The Thinker, Ugolino, The Kiss or the Three Shades).
The graphic collection at the Musée Rodin contains around 7,000 drawings. They can be associated with different styles and periods: observation of landscapes, fantasy works inspired by Dante or Baudelaire, numerous erotic nudes or even portraits.
The Musée Rodin preserves an important collection of 25,000 photographs. Among these, 7,000 were collected by Rodin himself. The artist showed indeed a great interest for this science and art, and he has collaborated with many photographers, such as Eugène Druet, Jacques-Ernest Bulloz, Adolphe Braun or Edward Steichen.
Subjects and themes are varied, Rodin’s personal albums attest to his centres of interest and artistic sources, while the portraits and newspaper photographs illustrate his work and his life. Above all, these photographs are a great source to learn what happened in the studio between 1877 and Rodin’s death, in 1917.
Camille Claudel room
The Camille Claudel room contains such Claudel works as the 1913 casting of The Mature Age (1898), The Wave (1897), The Waltz, Sakountala (1905), and an 1892 casting of Bust of Rodin (1888-89).
Claudel, a student and model for Rodin, and soon his collaborator, associate, and lover, worked with Rodin from 1884 until the early 1890s. They kept in close contact until 1899.
Rodin as a collector
During the twenty last years of his life, as he was living in Meudon, Rodin started a collection of ancient works of art from Egypt, Greece and Rome, then later from the Far East. As the collection was growing, the different pieces invaded the studio and his house, replacing the casts after Antique statues. As Rodin’s fame grew, the commissions he received enabled him to continue his collection, reaching over 6.000 works in 1917.
In addition, Rodin’s friendships and tastes led him to surrounding himself with works by the Naturalists (Théodule Ribot, Alfred Roll) and Symbolists (Eugène Carrière, Charles Cottet…). Through a series of exchanges made with his artists friends, Rodin owned works of art from Jules Dalou, Alexandre Falguière or Jean-Paul Laurens. He also realised important purchases: three Van Gogh’s (including Père Tanguy, late 1887), Renoir’s Nude in the Sunlight and Monet’s Belle-Île.
The tour begins with the Villa des Brillants where Rodin spent the last 20 years of his life. Nearby, the visitor discovers the tactile space where reproductions of works in resin can be discovered by touch. Below, the gallery of plasters is a real dive into the heart of the artist’s creation, the presentation of the sculptures in their successive states allows the visitor to understand the different stages of Rodin’s creative journey.
In the vast park, Rodin’s tomb, surmounted by the Thinker, welcomes visitors for a meditative moment facing the Seine valley. A place of life and creation, the Rodin Museum in Meudon is also a place of transmission where many artistic and cultural education projects are organized for young people of all ages and from all over.
The route begins with the Cantor hall where the monumental staircase unfolds. In the 18 rooms along the route, clay sketches, plaster casts, bronze or marble sculptures show the evolution of the artist throughout his life. The creative process of the artist and the genesis of the works are the red thread of the visit.
After the first three rooms dedicated to the beginnings of the artist, L’Âge d’airain is revealed in a rotunda. This room, one of the most beautiful on the route, is entirely decorated with 18th century woodwork. The play of reflections in the old mirrors and the blondness of the old parquet floors add a poetic dimension. Further on, Le Baiser, in white marble, exudes an unequivocal sensuality.
On the first floor, views of the bronzes in the garden give a taste of the rest of the visit to the sculpture garden where The Thinker is located. Room 16, the works of Camille Claudel, recall the importance of the bond which unites the two artists. The route ends with the walking mansurrounded by the collection of antiques owned by the artist. This work made Rodin the first of the “moderns”.
To discover the sculpture garden of the Rodin Museum is to understand the subtle alliance between nature and sculpture. The blooms follow one another at the rhythm of the seasons, forming a vegetal setting which magnifies the works of Rodin. In summer, the deep shade of the trees invites you to enjoy a moment of relaxation and contemplation on the benches.
Different spaces make up the museum garden. The rose garden, on either side of the main courtyard, frames the Hôtel Biron, which houses the permanent collections. Between the Invalides and the Eiffel Tower, nestled between boxwood, The Thinker sits enthroned on its pillar and faces, on the other side of the garden, The Gates of Hell. This part of the garden was designed in 1920 after the destruction of the outbuildings bordering the Hôtel Biron.
The three hectares of the sculpture garden deploy a range of atmospheres. The Monument to the Bourgeois of Calais appeals to passers-by in the rue de Varenne, Ugolin devouring his children discovers himself in the middle of the basin, Orpheus finds himself in the groves while the monument to Balzac leans against the Invalides.
Rodin, in his time, already used the garden to present his sculptures there. The Rodin Museum perpetuates this heritage and offers you the opportunity to discover the relationship that sculptures maintain with the space that surrounds them.
The blooms follow one another all year round, Christmas roses in winter, in February the pink viburnum welcomes the first bees. In March the forsythias burst their bright yellow followed by the ceanothus of a deep blue. In May, the explosion of roses transforms the garden into a real candy box softened by the delicate colors of the hydrangeas.
In summer, the lime tree perfumes the garden. From September, the leaves take on their golden hues. In winter, the lace of the bare trees gives a nostalgic air to the garden, not devoid of charm.
Rodin Museum in Meudon, the Villa des Brillants
Rodin Museum in Meudon is the residence inhabited by Rodin and Rose Beuret from 1893. Below this bourgeois residence whose garden descends towards the Seine valley, is an atypical building, the Pavillon de l’Alma: Rodin had exhibited his works there on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1900, and the acquired to have it rebuilt in Meudon. Initially a workshop-museum adjoining the house, it was then moved a little lower, behind the façade salvaged from the Château d’Issy, which burned down in 1871.
It is here, where Rodin sculpted, that the works shown to the public are now displayed. There are many plaster originals, from which his most famous bronzes were cast: those of the Kiss, the Monument to Victor Hugo, Balzac, the Burghers of Calais or even the Gates of Hell are thus preserved. in Meudon. It is therefore in Meudon that the visitor comes closest to the original state of Rodin’s work. The domain of the Villa des Brillants was an important place of creation, animated by about fifty practitioners whose different workshops were installed on plots bought by Rodin.
This pavilion was replaced in 1930 by a vast concrete exhibition building. The facade of the Château d’Issy has been preserved, with its furniture and the photographs of its occupants. Serving as the setting for Le Penseur, which overlooks the tomb of the artist and his wife.