During our last week in Paris, Max and I went to the Musée Rodin. It's one of my favorite places in the city, and I hadn't been there yet! Max grabbed an umbrella as we were leaving, and it was a good thing because we ended up needing it.
It's funny, you can't tell in this picture, but it was raining buckets. That's probably the only reason The Thinker wasn't surrounded by people.
Max had read that the beauty of The Thinker is that his pondering is evident not only in his pose but in the details - in the muscles in his back; that his whole body is straining with the weight of his struggles. I studied it more carefully this time and had to agree.
The Cathedral is probably my favorite of his works. I think Rodin made amazing hands and this one especially moves me.
A museum guard was sitting on the sill of an open window, so there was no getting a picture without people. Still, since it was positively steamy in there, I couldn't blame him, and in fact was very pleased that he had the window open!
The Kiss is another favorite. When you see it from the front, it looks like the couple is sitting on the stone, but when you see it from behind, you can see them emerging from the stone. Just another reminder of the amazing work that sculptors do.
(Of course, there were 3 groups of kids on field trips!)
This is a bust that Rodin did of Victor Hugo. He inscribed "To the Illustrious Master" on it.
I hadn't seen this painting before - a rendering of The Thinker by Munch (from Rodin's personal art collection).
I think it's interesting that they call preliminary works by sculptors "sketches." Here, sketches of hands and of Balzac.
I can't remember what this one is called, but it's a hand emerging from a grave.
We had decided to go inside the museum first and hope that the rain would abate, but when we went back to the gardens, it was raining even harder! I was disappointed because I love wandering through the gardens.
Still, I had to go see The Burghers of Calais.
Again, Max had read about it and what he told me helped me to gain a greater appreciation of the work.
England's Edward III, after a victory in the Battle of Crécy, laid siege to Calais, while Philip VI of France ordered the city to hold out at all costs. Philip failed to lift the siege, and starvation eventually forced the city to parley for surrender.
Edward offered to spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed. Edward demanded that they walk out wearing nooses around their necks, and carrying the keys to the city and castle. One of the wealthiest of the town leaders, Eustache de Saint Pierre, volunteered first, and five other burghers joined with him.Saint Pierre led this envoy of volunteers to the city gates. It was this moment, and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death that Rodin captured in his sculpture, scaled somewhat larger than life.
Although the burghers expected to be executed, their lives were spared by the intervention of England's queen, Philippa of Hainault, who persuaded her husband to exercise mercy by claiming that their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.
Rodin's design was controversial. The public had a lack of appreciation for it because it didn't have "overtly heroic antique references" which were considered integral to public sculpture. It was not a pyramidal arrangement and contained no allegorical figures. It was intended to be placed at ground level, rather than on a pedestal. The burghers were not presented in a positive image of glory; instead, they display "pain, anguish and fatalism". To Rodin, this was nevertheless heroic, the heroism of self-sacrifice.
In 1895 the monument was installed in Calais on a large pedestal in front of a Parc Richelieu, a public park, contrary to the sculptor's wishes, who wanted contemporary townsfolk to "almost bump into" the figures and feel solidarity with them. Only later was his vision realised, as in 1926 the sculpture was moved in front of the newly completed town hall of Calais, where it rests on a much lower base.
This is one of my favorite views. Even if that tree does need a haircut...
The museum was hosting an exhibit comparing Mapplethorpe works with Rodin works. You wouldn't think that would work, but it was actually quite effective. I didn't take any photos there, for obvious reasons :).