The day we visited Petit Palais in Paris
Its courtyard garden was blazing with spring blossoms.
We didn’t spend a lot of time inside
Long enough to adore its grand airy atmosphere and the spiral staircase.
Upon exiting the building, we walked to Pont Alexandre III
Said to be the most ornate and extravagant bridge in Paris
with its golden statues glistening under sunlight.
It was there we caught our first glimpse (of the day) of the Eiffel Tower.
For lunch, my friend Johanna resolved to satisfying her burger and fries cravings 🙂 where I settled for a salad.
There is a time in our journeys where we seek the familiarity that reminds us of home.
After lunch, we headed to the Rodin Museum. My friend is not a huge fan of sculptures, so she stayed in the garden watching her favorite TV show, while I roam the museum floors finding Rodin, Camille Claudel and a small collection of paintings by Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir. Below are some of my favorites, as curated by the museum.
When conceived in 1880 in its original size (approx. 70 cm) as the crowning element of The Gates of Hell (shown below) , seated on the tympanum, The Thinker was entitled The Poet. He represented Dante, author of the Divine Comedy which had inspired The Gates, leaning forward to observe the circles of Hell, while meditating on his work.
This image of a man lost in thought, but whose powerful body suggests a great capacity for action, has become one of the most celebrated sculptures ever known.
The Kiss originally represented Paolo and Francesca, two characters borrowed, once again, from Dante’s Divine Comedy: slain by Francesca’s husband who surprised them as they exchanged their first kiss, the two lovers were condemned to wander eternally through Hell.
This group, designed in the early stages of the elaboration of The Gates, was given a prominent position on the lower left door, until 1886, when Rodin decided that this depiction of happiness and sensuality was incongruous with the theme of his vast project. He therefore transformed the group into an independent work and exhibited it in 1887. The fluid, smooth modelling, the very dynamic composition and the charming theme made this group an instant success.
Made in Brussels, The Age of Bronze, one of Rodin’s most famous works, attests to the sculptor’s masterly skill and his attention to living nature that informs the pose and the modelling.
A young Belgian soldier, Auguste Ney, was the model for this statue devoid of any element that would shed light on the subject’s identity.
Carved in stone and still covered in toolmarks, The Cathedral is a combination of two right hands, belonging to two different figures.
Very similar to The Secret
this work belongs to the series carved in marble, most frequently after 1900, such as The Hand of God
and Hands of Lovers
But, more broadly, it emphasizes Rodin’s fondness and passion for these hands, which he isolated, like the fragments in his collection of Antiques, in order to give them a more finished and autonomous form.
Next, two pieces from Camille Claudel – The Age of Maturity
The Age of Maturity (1893-1900) is probably the work that most lends itself to an interpretation based on autobiographical narrative: the end of the relationship between Claudel and Rodin. In actual fact, the association of the three figures with Camille Claudel, Auguste Rodin and Rose Beuret arose some time after the sculpture was first exhibited. The critics initially saw it as the “symbolic representation of Destiny, in which the ageing man is torn away from love, youth and life”. The work was a turning-point in Claudel’s career, a key moment, when she attained the full mastery of her powers, when she began to be recognized by the establishment, but when she realized she would never reach the heights that she could justifiably hope for. In the first version, the man stands in the centre, torn between two women, one old, the other young. The second version, full of powerful movement, intensifies the drama: this time the man turns his back on the imploring figure of the young woman, having letting go of her hand, and is led away by an old woman who also depicts Time.
A couple of graceful dancers seemingly carried away by a whirlwind.
If you love sculptures, the museum could easily take 4-6 hours. I was a bit concerned about my friend getting bored waiting outside, so I finished everything in just a little over 2.5 hours. It was not enough and I would definitely be back for a revisit!
Coming up next in the Travel section: Dinner at L’Astrance, Paris.