Chez Rodin

Standing having to blow candles and being intimidated by all the faces of family and friends staring down at my little frame kneeling at a table trying to blow out the candles on my birthday cake is the last thing I remember from the last birthday I celebrated. I was seven years. To this day, the thought of anyone singing me Happy Birthday still makes me cringe.

I don’t exactly hate birthdays, I simply loathe being the centre of attention. In contrast, I do love birthday cakes.

Imagine the sheer surprise that after over twenty years of not celebrating my birthday, I had an urge to do something. So much so that I took a couple of days of work and organise a a trip to Paris.

As they say, Paris is always a good idea. The architecture, the food, art and culture, what else does one need for a few days.

Unfortunately, it turned out that Paris was not a good idea in winter. The golden crisp morning I remember were replaced by grey and miserable sky. The beautiful light that streams down to make winters bareble for someone born in a 35 degree sun was replaced with constant rain and sleet.

What does one do when plans change in these circumstances? Well, you sulk for a few hours cursing that perhaps you shouldn’t had bothered then you pull yourself together and decide to be flexible. Quickly reviewing in my head what I hadn’t done before . I remembered the Rodin exhibit I had visited in London. Being so close to those amazing sculptures made me remember the Rodin museum.

Musée Rodin is situated at The Hôtel Biron, covering 3 hectares of land in Paris. It was completed in 1730 by Jean Aubert. Rodin moved into the Hôtel Biron in 1908 and continued working there until his death. As Rodin fell seriously ill in 1916, the French government called for the establishment of a museum to house his work. Three years later the Hôtel Biron officially opened as the primary museum displaying Rodin’s artistic accomplishments.

The museum galleries and the surrounding gardens include nearly 400 pieces of art by Rodin. The most famous of Rodin’s sculptures, The Thinker, is showcased in the gardens opposite The Gates of Hell. A piece of work that consumed him over the last three decades of his life. Rodin died before completing this sculpture, which embodies scenes from Dante’s Inferno.

Other statues found in the garden include Balzacand The Burghers of Calais. Rodin created many busts of friends and famous figures, including the French writer Victor Hugo (Les Miserables), the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, and the English socialite-turned-writer Vita Sackville-West. Many of these creations are found in the museum. The Bronze Age, one of his early statues, was inspired by a trip to Italy, where Rodin studied the sculptures of the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo. The marble statue The Kiss (1886), once considered inappropriate for public viewing, is today a centrepiece of the museum.

Rodin collected the works of other notable artists of his time, including Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and these works can be seen in the museum. The museum also includes a room devoted to the works of the French sculptor Camille Claudel, who was Rodin’s student and mistress.

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