Rodin Museum in Paris
The Rodin Museum in Paris is the largest collection of works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The exhibition is housed in the luxurious 17th-century Biron mansion not far from the Maison des Invalides on rue Varennes.
Rodin Museum can be surely called one of the most wonderful museums of the French capital. The extraordinary harmony of the park, beautiful at any time of the year, the wonderful mansion and the magnificent exposition of the house make it an attraction for many tourists and the third – after the Louvre and Orsay Museums – the most visited museum in Paris.
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Video: Rodin Museum in Paris
This building was built in the distant 17th century, commissioned by a certain barber, who was able to make a considerable fortune on speculation in securities. After some time the possession of the mansion passed to Louis XV, who served as a marshal to the king. Later the museum was named after the military man – Biron. However, the marshal’s possessions changed hands again. The next owner of the mansion was the state. By decision of the government, the modern museum was rented to the world-famous dancer Isadora Duncan. The painter Henri Matisse also lived there with her. As the above names become known, the museum let world-famous names out of its doors. In 1908, Auguste Rodin, who later bequeathed all his creations to the state, began working in the museum building.
Rodin finished his way of life in 1917 and three years later a museum in memory of the great artist was opened. Today, the Rodin Museum welcomes hundreds of tourists and locals who take a great interest in the works of the great master. In the garden you can find the famous statues of Rodin “The Thinker”, “The Gates of Hell”, “Citizen of Calais”. In addition, every year, in the summer, exhibitions of works of art collected by Rodin are held on the territory of the museum.
In addition to the presented works of painting and art, visitors to the museum will have an unforgettable experience of the magnificent garden, which is decorated with hundreds of blooming roses. The scent of flowers and the variety of shapes and kinds of buds will allow you to enjoy not only the paintings and sculptures, but also the amazing beauty of the garden.
Almost all of Rodin’s best creations are installed in the park of the mansion – the sculptures “The Thinker” and “Citizens of Calais”, some of the most famous works of the artist, “Gates of Hell”, “Beethoven”, “Ugolino”. In the building of the mansion under the exposition of works donated by Rodin, allocated sixteen rooms. So, in the halls of the first floor you can enjoy the masterpieces of the genius sculptor, such as “The Kiss”, “Eve”, “The Walking Man”.
The sculptures from different years show the techniques of the master, which established his personal style and paved the way for modern sculpture. Rodin’s world is complemented by the works of his friends, neighbors’ tenants, a collection of ancient antique statues, photographs and drawings. A separate room is allocated for the works of Comille Claudel, Rodin’s lover. The museum collection consists of more than 8000 photographs, about 6600 sculptures and 7000 other works of art.
On the second floor, you will see the master’s small sculptures as well as his collections of prints, paintings, and examples of applied art, including such great paintings as Claude Manet’s “Landscape at Belle Ile” and Van Gogh’s “Papa Tanguy”.
There is a summer café in the museum’s garden, where you can relax and gain energy for a further tour of the mansion, which usually takes several hours. And in the backyard of the museum there is a picturesque lake and a family restaurant, whose culinary traditions will surprise you no less than the magnificent exposition.
Be sure to check out the chapel nearby; today it displays Rodin’s collection of antiquities and hosts periodic exhibitions of works by contemporary sculptors.
The museum is open every day except Monday from 10:00 to 17:45. Tickets cost 6 euros for a comprehensive ticket and 1 euro for a visit to the garden alone. Those under 18 can enjoy the masterpieces of the master for free.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to the Rodin Museum is by metro – get off at Varenne or Invalides stations. Entrance to the Rodin museum is on the Varenne street. In the glass pavilion you can buy tickets – to see the whole complex, or to see only the garden (cheaper).
Rodin Museum in Paris
Rodin Museum in Paris is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion, surrounded by a beautiful garden. The sculptor rented rooms here from 1908 to 1917 and after his death he bequeathed his collection of works to the state.
- Monday Closed
- Tuesday 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday 10:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
- Thursday 10:00-18:30
- Friday 10:00-18:30
- Saturday 10:00-18:30
- Sunday 10:00-18:30
History of Hotel Biron
The building, which now houses the Musée Rodin, was erected in the 1730s at the request of barber A. P. de Moras, who was engaged in the manufacture of wigs. He became rich while playing at the stock exchange, which allowed him to fulfill his dream of building a beautiful house-hotel. The project was designed by the famous French architect Jean Auber.
The luxurious mansion was built in 2 years, after which the woodworker F. Lemoine was invited to do the interior decoration. A beautiful park was arranged around the building. The barber’s widow leased the mansion to Louis XIV’s daughter-in-law, the Duchesse du Meun.
In 1753-1788 the famous Marshal Biron settled here, who “lent” his name to the mansion. During his stay, the French commander engaged in the redevelopment of the park – increasing its area by 2 times, he created an English garden and a swimming pool.
After the death of Marshal Biron, his nephew, the Duke de Lauzen, became the owner of the hotel, but during the French Revolution, he was beheaded in 1793. After his death the building and garden fell into disrepair.
The next phase of the mansion’s heyday came during the period of the First Empire – it was leased to the Vatican and then to the Russian embassy. Later the Duchess Bethune-Chareau settled there – after her death she bequeathed the building to the Society of the Sacred Heart. In 1820, nuns moved in and converted it into a boarding house for noble maidens. They considered luxury to be unnecessary, so they sold all the mirrors and wooden carvings. For the needs of the boarding house, service rooms were added, a vegetable garden was planted, and a Gothic chapel was erected.
Bohemian inhabitants of the hotel and the birth of the Rodin Museum
In 1904, France passed a decree on the separation of church and state, as a result of which the nuns were evicted from the mansion. The building and the park were taken over by the city and began to fall into disrepair, and there were even suggestions that the house be demolished.
Then a real estate agent began to rent out rooms for paltry prices to members of the Parisian bohemia. For several years, the painter Henri Matisse, the dancer Isadora Duncan, the writer and director Jean Cocteau, the Austrian writer Rilke, and others lived and worked there.
In 1908, the poet Rilke and his wife invited Auguste Rodin to visit, who came to be completely enthralled by the building’s appearance, spacious rooms and overgrown park. He decided to rent four rooms on the first floor of the building with windows overlooking the beautiful garden and set up his studio there.
Settling in the Biron Hotel, Rodin received a charge of creative inspiration that allowed him to work on his sculptures for several years. He placed simple furniture in the rooms and hung his watercolors and paintings of his friends – paintings by Carrier, Renoir and Van Gogh – on the walls.
Working in harmony with his surroundings, the sculptor created many illustrious works. Gradually he began to assemble his collection in the rooms, moving some pieces from Villa Medona (where he lived with his wife and son).
When the building became the property of the city, Rodin begged permission to remain in the mansion on the condition that a museum of his work would be established there after his death. He took care of all the costs of the collection.
In 1914, the final decision to create the museum was taken at a government meeting. The First World War, which began eight days later, slowed down these plans for another two years. It was only in December 1916 that the creation of the Rodin Museum was ratified by the French Senate and government.
Rodin’s garden and sculptures
Originally the park was designed according to the classic scheme, widespread in France in the XVIII century. In the front there is a parterre with beautiful flower gardens, on the right there are lime trees planted, in the center – a rotunda, on the left – a line of trees, behind which the vegetable gardens are hidden.
Marshal Biron’s contribution to the arrangement of the park was an achievement of landscape construction in France, which allowed the gardens to be called “exceptional.” All the plantings were made by the gardener D. Moisi according to the plan of the architect Auberts – new terraces were equipped, the level of the garden was raised and a swimming pool with a fountain was created.
During the Revolution, the garden was opened to the free access of Parisians. However, the citizens could not appreciate its beauty – the house was looted, the park was neglected, and the sculptures were almost completely broken. During the period of the Sacré-Coeur School, at the behest of the nuns, a vegetable garden was arranged in the garden and fruit trees, grapes and flowers were planted.
During Rodin’s residence in the mansion (1908-1917), sculptures began to be placed in the “virgin forest”, turning the park into an open-air museum. The grand opening of the Rodin Garden for visitors took place in 1927.
In 1990 the reconstruction began, which was entrusted to the landscape architect Jacques Sgard. In an effort to restore the regular French style, he devised two narrow parterres at the bottom of the terrace and called them the “Garden of Orpheus” and the “Garden of Springs”. At the end of the park were created 3 green arches, repeating the silhouette of the museum building – the arranged through perspective was a success for the architect.
The modern territory of the garden is conventionally divided into two parts. One of them is a beautiful rose garden with the sculpture “Gates of Hell” (227 bas-reliefs), created by the master after reading the “Divine Comedy” by Dante. Next are the figures of Adam and Eve, followed by the famous “Thinker”. On the left side of the garden from the Hotel Biron are works in marble and plaster (“Victor Hugo”, “The Kiss”, etc.), then in the shade of trees are sculptures in bronze. J. Sgard has brought to life an ingenious technique – all sculptures are rhymed under a general slant that repeats the direction of the trunks of the trees.
Walking along the path planted with boxwood and roses, the visitors get to the Garden of Orpheus, then to the pool, on the bank of which stand Meditation, Adam and the Genius of Eternal Rest. On the other side of the parterre is the “Garden of Springs,” where moisture-loving varieties of plants are planted.
At the end of the park is the favorite place of Parisians – the loungers and benches for relaxing and a playground.
Expositions of the Rodin Museum in Paris
Almost all works in the collection of Musée Rodin are associated with the works of the great French sculptor. The number of sculptures is more than 6.6 thousand copies, many of which are located in the alleys of the park among bushes and flowers. In addition, the museum holds about 10 thousand drawings of the master, 25 thousand photographs, as well as collections of paintings, prints, ceramics and antiques. All of them are displayed in temporary exhibitions. There is also an archive of the master in the building.
Particular attention is paid to the works of a talented pupil – Camille Claudel, whose fate was associated with the teacher for many years. She was his mistress and muse in the course of 9 years, but for the sake of her leave his lawful wife Rosa Bere and his son he was not able. Later Claudel was placed in a psychiatric hospital, where she lived for 30 years and died at the age of 78.
Inside the museum, 16 rooms have been set aside for Rodin’s works, which house the master’s sculptures created at different periods of his life:
- “The Man with a Broken Nose”, “The Girl in the Hat” (posed by Rodin’s wife), “The Bronze Age”, “The Cathedral” (the prototype was the Reims Cathedral);
- “Hand of God” (1916-1918) – a marble composition demonstrating the creation of the first humans;
- “The Kiss” – separately created in 1882, a fragment of the sculpture “Gates of Hell”;
- “The Thinker” (1880-1882) – for which the boxer J. Beaud, popular in the Parisian Red Light District, posed; more than 20 copies were later created in bronze and plaster;
One of the rooms is allotted for works of the sculptor’s pupil Camille Claudel – it is “Waltz”, busts of the master himself and brother Paul, “Wave” and others.
Graphics and photography from the master
Starting the next work Rodin always made preliminary sketches. In the archive of the museum stored several thousand graphic works of the master, among which there are pencil sketches and lithographic sketches. They show portraits, nude torsos, and sketches for Dante’s illustrations. During his travels in cities in Italy and Belgium, Rodin created many landscapes.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the sculptor became interested in photography. His work is stored in the funds of the museum – this is about 8 thousand photographs. However, old photos are rarely exhibited, trying to preserve for future generations.
The collection assembled by Rodin
Auguste Rodin appreciated works not only his own, but also those of other authors. During the period of the workshop under the roof of the Hotel Biron, he collected a vast collection of antiquities, which he brought from his travels in Egypt, Greece, the Middle East and Italy.
As an admirer of painting, he often purchased canvases that he liked. Some of the paintings in his collection were given to him by authors as an exchange for the works of the great sculptor. His collection included works by Van Gogh, O. Renoir, J. P. Laurent, E. Munch, C. Monet and others (about 7,000), which he bequeathed to the Rodin Museum.
The opening hours of the museum are from 10.00 to 18.30 every day except Mondays. Every Wednesday the visiting time is prolonged till 20.45. Holidays are on December 25th, January 1st and May 1st. The museum is closed at 16.45 on the pre-holiday days.
The museum has a permanent exhibit, there are also temporary exhibitions, and tickets can be purchased on the official website or at the box office. The prices in 2019 for a visit are 12 € for adult visitors, 9 € for young people aged 18-25 (non-EU citizens), for a group of at least 10 people – 7 €. Every Wednesday after 15.00 the price of the ticket is reduced to 7 €.
Entrance fee to the sculpture garden is 4 €, for youth and group – 2 €. The museum is free of charge for children under 18 years, disabled people (with accompanying person), young people 18-25 years old who live in EU countries, students, journalists and artists. During the period from October 1 to the end of March on the first Sunday of each month admission is free.
At the ticket office you can take an audio guide for 6 € (French, Chinese, English and Spanish).
How to get to the Rodin Museum
The address of the museum is Paris, Rue de Varennes, 77. The building of the Hotel Biron is located in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, not far from the Maison des Invalides.
You can reach the museum by metro – stations Varenne (line 13) or Invalides (line 13 and 8), Mairie d’Issy (line 12) or by bus number 69, 82, 87, 92.
Judging by the reviews and statistics (annually 700 thousand people visit the Rodin Museum), the collection of works of the sculptor and the beautiful garden are among the most favorite places of citizens and travelers in Paris.