Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Solo Trip to Paris Part 5: I Fell in Love with Rodin

On my 4th full day in Paris the sun came out. After the previous days in museums, this Oregon outdoorsy woman wanted a long walk on the cold but sunny streets. As I studied my map at breakfast, I saw that I was not far from the Luxembourg Gardens. Seeing the biggest garden/park in Paris sounded like the perfect way to start the day.

I found I was not the only person in Paris ready to take in the sunshine. The park was full of like minded thinkers.  Many Parisians were taking advantage of the beautiful day.
Throughout the park are very comfortable, lightweight metal chairs for folks to sit and rearrange to one's liking. I decided to try one out and bask in the sun. I even pulled out my sketchbook to capture on paper this fellow across the path from me. I was saddened to think that if these chairs were in a park in the U.S. they'd disappear in a matter of days. 

The Luxembourg Gardens and Palace were built in the 1600's, and aside from some destruction during the French Revolution (later repaired) still stand as a place of beauty in the middle of Paris. 

After sketching and letting my mind wander, I took a look at my guidebook. I was not far from the Rodin Museum. Although this was not on my "must see" list I'd made in Blue River, I decided seeing 3 dimensional art would be a nice break from all the paintings from previous days I had swirling in my brain.

I had left the Saint-Germain district and entered the Latin Quarter. The streets were more spacious and buildings more modern. The store windows seemed more geared toward a younger, less touristy crowd. However, the street charm of Paris was still apparent.  
I was really struck with this window selling eye-glasses. Instead of using photographs of people wearing glasses, they had paintings in their window. I know many artists who would gladly create art for store windows in the U. S. 

I was now in the area of mansions, including the home of the Rodin Museum, the Hotel Biron built in the 1700s. Entering the grounds of the museum, I had a great view of the Dome Church.  And then . . .

the abundance of Rodin's statues throughout the seven acres of grounds surrounding the Museum. 

The Thinker

The sculpture of the poet Balzac below, was commissioned by a literary group, who immediately rejected it. They had expected a classical sculpture, not Balzac in his robe. Rodin spent 6 years creating this sculpture and considered it one of his best work. Rodin never saw it cast in bronze.


The Burghers of Calais below tells the story from the Hundred Years War: six leaders of Calais volunteered to be executed if the city's population was spared. This is Rodin's interpretation of the story.

The Gates of Hell was another commissioned piece that Rodin worked on for many years. The museum that the doors were commissioned for never came to be, but The Thinker and The Kiss as well as other well known sculptures were ideas taken from the doors. This was finally cast in bronze by the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia after Rodin's death.

Gates of Hell

I spent a lot of time enjoying walking through the gardens and learning about the pieces via an audio guide. The audio guide was well worth the money.

And then there was so much more inside! 

I enjoyed learning more about this famous and successful artist. He went to work as an apprentice in a decorative art shop after being rejected from art school 3 times. His work was not quickly accepted in the Paris art scene because he departed from the classical sculptures, creating emotive pieces, often interlocking several figures in unusual ways. His subject did not have to be beautiful, as the piece below proves.

She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife

He also collected some paintings by artists whose work he admired.
Van Gough

I was quite taken by this elegant stair case, featuring a great painting by an artist I'd not heard of, John Lavery, an Irish painter.

Again I had another wonderful art filled day! It was time to find some food and a glass of wine. And, as always in Paris, there was a cafe nearby. What gentilhomme would not flirt with this jeune femme!

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