Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Musee Rodin - Paris

We had the pleasure of hosting visitors again - Chris and Jeff!  They spend a week with us and although Ron had to work, I got to be a tourist for a week again!

Jeff and Chris - Convention Metro Station
I have to say - being a tourist is hard work!  When your time is limited and your to-do list is long, the days are long and busy and tiring.  I am somewhat amazed at how exhausting it is to sight-see and be on your feet and carry a heavy camera for 6 days in a row.  Nevertheless, that's what I got to do!  The four of us had been in Paris together in 2000, so the to-do list was entirely Chris and Jeff's - all the stuff they wanted to do that they didn't do last time or wanted to do again.

Our very first stop was the Rodin Museum - which made me happy because I hadn't been there since 1995 and that was the year Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Secret Service got us into the Rodin Museum for free!   

Part of the Musee Rodin facade - the old entrance
The entrance to the museum has changed since I was here last, and sadly, the change is such that I don't think Mrs. Clinton could get us in for free again.

Musee Rodin - 79, rue de Varenne in Paris - the new entrance
Actually, what I don't like about it is the modern change to the facade and ticketing.  In 1995, you entered the museum from the old courtyard doors and there was a ticket booth that was just outside the doors.  You bought your tickets and then entered the garden in front of the Hotel Biron (the mansion in which Rodin lived and is now the museum) through the courtyard doors.  Now you enter a modern glass anteroom, have to pass security and there's a snazzy bookstore/gift shop and...well...it's progress I know but I liked the old entrance better.  I'm not a huge fan of mixing modern glass and steel with the baroquerococoartnouveauneo-classichaussmanian mix of ornate architecture throughout most of Paris. 

Still, once inside the gates, Hotel Biron is quite beautiful!

It would be much prettier without the giant aluminum nuggets though!

We toured the museum first and saved the gardens for later.  The Age of Bronze is one of my Rodin favorites.  I even have a small replica at home.  It's no wonder I spent an inordinate amount of shutter/sensor time on this sculpture!

The Age of Bronze is tucked into a window-filled room and you can view the sculpture from every angle
In this view you can see a little more of the room - although I love this sculpture, I'm equally in love with the history of this mansion and it's worn but-still-beautiful architectural details
The Age of Bronze again...but viewed through the mirror seen in the above photograph.  The bright sunlight highlights the patina and oxidation of the antique mirror
detail of mirror
aged beauty
Two right hands
Lovely flowers near the staircase
As you wander through the museum, the floor creaks and moans beneath your feet
A window with a front garden view

A window with a back garden view

The Colossal Head of Pierre de Wiessant - a Burgher of Calais
Chris and Jeff on the front porch
A path in the back garden - there's an outdoor cafe on the right
The Hotel Biron from the back garden - and a most beautiful sky!
Astilbe in the garden!  One of my favorites - it looks like a bursting firework!
I don't know what the stickers are for, but many people stuck theirs to the railing on the steps leading to the back garden
The Thinker
The Thinker and a beautiful sky
The Burghers of Calais
In 1347, King Edward III of England laid siege to Calais and King Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs.  After 11 months, starvation forced the city to discuss surrender conditions and Edward offered to spare the city if six of Calais' leaders would surrender to him, presumably to be executed.  Eustache de Saint Pierre volunteered first, and five other burghers followed.  Stripped down to their breeches and with nooses around their necks and carrying the keys to the city and castle, Saint Pierre led the starving volunteers to the city gates.

The Burghers of Calais is probably one of Rodin's most famous sculptures.  In 1880, Rodin was commissioned by the mayor of Calais for a monument for the town square to pay tribute to these six heroic men.  Rodin's design was controversial and innovative in that it presented the burghers at viewer height instead of on a pedestal and the burghers are portrayed as vulnerable, defeated and heroic in a profoundly moving moment of self-sacrifice as they leave the city and believe they are going to die.  And although King Edward intended to kill the burghers, his pregnant wife, Philippa, convinced him to spare their lives because she believed their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.

Jacques de Wiessant and Jean de Fiennes
Pierre de Wiessant
Andrieu d'Andres

Eustache de Saint-Pierre and Jean d'Aire
 The Burghers of Calais are all over the world now - in addition to the original in Calais, there are twelve casts of the sculpture; in Paris, Copenhagen, Belgium, London, Philadelphia, Switzerland, Washington D.C., Tokyo, Pasadena, Brooklyn, New York City and Seoul.  If you're even in one of these cities, look them up! 

One thing I find interesting is the juxtaposition of this incredibly emotional sculpture and the surrounding gardens.  It doesn't get much prettier than this:

The Hotel Biron and view of Napolean's Tomb from the front garden
And, just because you never know what you'll see on the streets of Paris, two fun photos!

That's me taking a picture of me whilst looking at a reflection of me in a mirror in a shop window
A color-coordinated flower shop - all the blossoms were shades of purple and white!


  1. Is baroquerococoartnouveauneoclassichaussmaniam really one word? I agree that the aluminum nuggets seemed out of place. What a beautiful place and surrounding gardens! The sky photos were phenomenal! Thanks again for sharing.

  2. Hello! Would you be able to help me? I am looking for photographs of the Atelier Brancusi before its most recent (second) reconstruction. So I'm looking for online photographs of the studio from circa 1980s.