I had heard about Auguste Rodin before. I learned about him in my art history class in college but I fell in love with his work during my last trip to Paris. We visited the Rodin Museum (Musee Rodin) and I was amazed and inspired by his work. He has such a deep understanding of the human body and I love the way he is able to convey emotions.
After my trip to Paris, I started noticing there is a lot of Rodin’s work exhibited in the US too. So for all of my fellow Rodin fans, I thought I would share some of the places to see his work.
About Auguste Rodin
Rodin was the preeminent French sculptor of his time or arguably of the modern era. He was born into a poor family and couldn’t get accepted into the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts school in Paris. A trip to Italy in 1875 was the inspiration he needed.
He believed art should be true to nature. Some of his most famous works are The Thinker, The Kiss, Adam, The Gates of Hell, The Shade, and Eternal Springtime. You can find a copy of at least one of his works at most major art museums. Alternatively, you can fold an origami model of The Thinker.
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Best Places to See Rodin’s Artwork
Musee Rodin in Paris
Unfortunately when we visited, the museum was undergoing renovations so the main building was closed, but it was still well worth the visit. The museum is actually in what is called the Hotel Biron were Rodin lived and worked. Now you can buy entrance to both the museum and the gardens for 10 euro or just the gardens for 4 euro. On the first Sunday of each month, Musee Rodin is free (along with many other museums in Paris).
A small exhibit just past the entrance gave you insight into how Rodin went about his work. You could see some models of final pieces, but the highlight of our visit was the garden. The grounds are beautiful. Right away you see one of his most famous pieces “The Thinker” towering over some flowers. While there are about 28 large size casts of the sculpture, this was the first one made. At the far end of the garden is a pond with the sculpture Ugolin in the center of it. The view back to the house is beautiful.
We also saw Adam, the Shade, the Burghers of Calais, and the Gates of Hell to name a few. The Gates of Hell is a very impressive piece which depicts a scene from “The Inferno”, the first section of Dante’s Divine Comedy. A small version of the Thinker appears over the doorway in the Gates of Hell. Experts debate whether it is meant to be Dante, Adam or even Rodin himself.
Rodin Museum Philadelphia
The Rodin Museum also has a beautiful garden that contains some of Rodin’s most famous pieces. It was nice that I was able to recognize almost all of them. At the front are sculptures, including the Thinker, displayed as they are at Rodin’s tomb. Right at the entrance to the museum, you find the Gates of Hell. There are also some great pieces on the side of the museum including the Three Shades. Visiting the garden is always free.
The Museum is part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you buy the $20 two-day ticket, it includes admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Perelman Building (more art exhibits). You can also just pay $10 to see the Rodin Museum. Even if you don’t have two days, I would recommend going with the two-day ticket because the other museums are also worth a visit (more on that in a future blog). There is also a complimentary shuttle that will take you between the museums.
The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia is small but it is packed with some fabulous pieces. You can easily see the museum in an hour. When we were there, we saw many budding artists that were working on sketches of the artwork. Some of my favorite pieces were the Kiss (a copy), the Athlete, the Cathedral, and Eternal Springtime.
The National Museum of Western Art in Japan
The National Museum of Western Art was established in 1959 and has about fifty of Rodin’s works. You can see them in the 19th Century Hall of the museum.
The Museum is located in Tokyo, about an 8-minute walk from the Ueno JR station. They offer free admission on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month, and November 3 for Culture Day.
Read more about the museum here.
Rodin’s Works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art also has an impressive collection of Rodin’s works on the second floor in the 19th and early 20th Century European Paintings and Sculpture section. Some of the sculptures they have are Eternal Spring, the Walking Man, and a small version of the Thinker.
From September 16, 2017, to January 15, 2018, the Met is having a special exhibit called “Rodin at the Met” to mark 100 years since Auguste Rodin’s death. The exhibition features iconic sculptures such as The Thinker and The Hand of God, as well as masterpieces such as The Tempest that have not been on display for years. Alongside Rodin’s works, you will find paintings from The Met collection by some of Rodin’s most admired contemporaries, including his friends Claude Monet (1840–1926) and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898).
Rodin Sculptures in Dallas
I also saw a few Rodin pieces at the Dallas Museum of Art (more on the DMA in a later post). Within their permanent collection (which is free), they have a smaller version of the Shade and the Sculptor and his Muse. I also saw the Eve sculpture on display in the garden of the Nasher Sculpture Center.
I will definitely visit the Rodin Museum again on my next trip to Paris. Going inside the Hotel Biron is on my Paris bucket list! I’m sure there are many other places where Rodin’s work is on display. Hopefully, some are close to you. What is your favorite piece of his work?
Expert Tips for seeing Rodin’s Works:
- Rodin’s work can be found at many top art museums including Musee Rodin (Paris), Rodin Museum (Philadelphia), Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas).
- You can see some of Rodin’s works for free. The Musee Rodin is free the first Sunday of each month. The garden of the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia and the permanent collection at the Dallas Museum of Art are always free.
- In Philadelphia, buy the 2 day pass that allows you to visit all three museums.