There’s nothing quite like a visit to Musée Rodin on a sunny day. While the permanent collection is impressive and the temporary exhibits are interesting, the garden is the real draw. It’s thrilling to sit amidst The Thinker and The Gates of Hell with the golden dome of Hôtel des Invalides poking above the treetops.
This site was hand-picked by August Rodin in 1908 when he leased the 18th century mansion, Hôtel Biron, from the state in exchange for all his work upon his death. Rodin died in 1916 and the museum opened in 1919.
Throughout the mansion and the garden, Rodin’s vast personal collection is displayed.
Though Rodin struggled in the beginning of his career, he gradually built a reputation and, from 1880 onward, earned numerous commissions, enabling him to develop a distinct style. His output increased even more in the 1890’s.
The Burghers of Calais. Commissioned in 1885 by the city of Calais to commemorate the heroism of six citizens who, during the Hundred Years War, sacrificed their lives so that the King of England would spare their town.
The Thinker. This was originally a depiction of Dante contemplating his life’s work and the misfortunes of humankind.
The Gates of Hell. Rodin was commissioned to design a bronze door for a future Parisian museum of decorative arts. Rodin sketched and modeled several maquettes and numerous groups and figures. The sculpture we know today began to take shape during the second maquette, where Rodin focused on tiny figures in sunken panels. You’ll recognize The Thinker, The Kiss and Ugolino. Rodin modeled different-sized figures of damned souls featured in The Divine Comedy.
Though the garden is vast, the museum feels intimate with its tarnished mirrors, chandeliers and wood paneling in every room. 300 of Rodin’s clay, plaster and bronze sculptures are displayed throughout. Additionally, the museum contains drawings, paintings, ceramics and photographs.
79, rue de Varenne – 75007 Paris