Musée Rodin, Paris – Virtual Tour
The Musée Rodin is a museum dedicated to the works of the sculptor Auguste Rodin.
It has two separate sites, the Hôtel Biron and surrounding grounds in central Paris plus outside Paris at Rodin’s old home, the Villa des Brillants at Meudon, Hauts-de-Seine.
The Musée Rodin contains most of Rodin’s significant creations, including The Thinker, The Kiss, and The Gates of Hell.
The combined collection includes 6,600 sculptures, 8,000 drawings, 8,000 old photographs, and 7,000 objets d’art.
A Virtual Tour of the Musée Rodin, Paris
- The Kiss by Auguste Rodin
- Eve by Auguste Rodin
- The Mature Age by Camille Claudel
- “The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin
- “Portrait of Père Tanguy” by Vincent van Gogh
- “The Three Shades” by Auguste Rodin
Highlights Tour of the Musée Rodin, Paris
“The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin is a marble sculpture of an embracing couple. Initially, it was created to depict the 13th-century Italian noblewoman immortalized in Dante’s Inferno.
The woman had fallen in love with her husband’s younger brother. Having fallen in love while reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, the couple is discovered and killed by the husband.
In the sculpture, the book can be seen in the man’s left hand. The lovers’ lips do not touch in the sculpture, suggesting that they were interrupted and met their demise without their lips ever having touched.
When critics first saw the statue in 1887, they suggested the less specific title “The Kiss,” and this is now the title of this masterpiece.
“Eve” by Auguste Rodin is a smaller version of the bronze statue initially created for “Gates of Hell.” It has become one of Rodin’s best-known sculptures of the female figure.
Eve stands awkwardly in trying to cover her body, she appears to be crouching, as she draws her left leg in to hide.
The depiction captures the agonized moment of shame through the perception of nakedness after the fall into sin. Her left-hand makes a gesture, as if in protection against a blow.
Using clay, plaster molds, and a meticulous process that included live models, Rodin created sculptures that were innovative and realistic.
With Eve, Rodin created a textured and emotive figure to mirror his statue of Adam.
“The Mature Age” by Camille Claudel comprises three nude figures. A young woman is kneeling who has just released the hand of the older standing man who he is being drawn away by the embrace of an older woman with a swirling drape.
The sculpture can be viewed as an allegory of aging, the man leaving behind youth and progressing towards maturity and eventual death.
The sculptures can also be interpreted as reflecting Claudel’s abandonment by Auguste Rodin, who, after a lover’s relationship with the younger Camille Claudel, returned to his older partner.
Camille Claudel explained the symbolism of this sculpture in letters to her brother as representing Destiny. Based on these letters, this sculpture was personal and autobiographical work.
Thus, Rodin was shocked and angered when he saw the sculpture for the first time in 1899. He cut off support for Claudel and may have influenced the Ministry of Fine Arts to cancel their commission.
The French government commissioned the Mature Age in 1895, but the commission was canceled in 1899 before a bronze was cast.
“The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin is one of his most famous sculptures.
It commemorates a historical incident during the Hundred Years’ War, when Calais, a prominent French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year and was forced to surrender.
The victors offered to spare the city if six of its leaders would surrender themselves and walk out wearing nooses around their necks, carrying the keys to the town and castle.
One of the wealthiest of the town leaders volunteered, and five other burghers volunteered to join him.
It is this moment when the volunteers leave the city gates that this sculpture depicts. Rodin captured the poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death.
“Portrait of Père Tanguy” by Vincent van Gogh depicts the paint grinder who sold art supplies and was an art dealer. He was one of the first to offer Van Gogh’s paintings for sale.
Père Tanguy’s cheerful demeanor and enthusiasm for art and artists made his shop one of the most favored art supply shops in Paris, and he was nicknamed Père (“Father”) Tanguy.
This brightly colored painting represents a shift in Vincent’s attitude and style. Van Gogh called his use of bright colors, “his gymnastics,” as he experimented with creating great depth and harmony in his artwork.
The background is covered with Van Gogh’s favorite Japanese prints that were sold at Tanguy’s shop. Gogh’s favorite Japanese prints included images of Mount Fuji, Kabuki actors, and cherry trees in bloom.
“The Three Shades” by Auguste Rodin was produced in plaster by Auguste Rodin in 1886 for his monumental sculpture “The Gates of Hell.” Then he had them enlarged to create an impressive independent group in 1904.
The downward thrust of their left arms and their heads conveys despair as they gaze down at the spectators. The Three Shades seem to be inviting the viewer to witness the drama of sin and damnation unfolding below them on The Gates.
He made several individual studies for the Shades before finally deciding to put together three identical figures gathered around a central point. The Shades are three separate casts of the same figure that has been rotated into different positions.
The angle at which the heads fall downward is so exaggerated that the necks and shoulders form an almost horizontal line. They were created for the top of The Gates looking down on the viewer.
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“I invent nothing, I rediscover.”
– Auguste Rodin
Photo Credit: By Miguel Hermoso Cuesta (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons