Summer Learning 2: The Rodin Museum

“I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need.” Auguste Rodin

We went to Philadelphia for a wedding during the last week of June. In the time around the wedding events, my husband, Dick, and I explored the city on foot taking in artworks of all kinds. The first morning we were there we walked to the Rodin Museum after a quick stop at Federal Donuts. That’s a Smore’s donut I’m holding:

Easy breakfast at Federal Donuts

The walk over to the Rodin Museum was full of sights along the way, especially on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. I’ll share more about them in the Public Art post. The museum presents itself with a shaded patio and pillared facade in front of which sits the ever ponderous Thinker.

Parkway entrance to the Rodin Museum
Facade with the Thinker

A walk up the gentle incline and around the facade and one encounters the incredibly impressive doorway surround The Gates of Hell, based on The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. The Thinker sits front and center over the door.

Rodin’s The Gates of Hell, based on The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri.

Once inside, the works are rich and diverse in their themes and are cast in bronze or carved from marble.

Either lush and sensuous:

Copy of Rodin’s “The Kiss” – Henri Gréber – 1929 – Marble

Or tender and sensitive:

Young Mother in the Grotto – Modeled by Auguste Rodin – Carved by Jean Escoula – Marble

I had been to the Rodin Museum in 2002 and the object that stood out in my memory from that visit was the giant head of Balzac:

Colossal Head of Balzac – Rodin – 1898 – Cast in Bronze – 1925

Some of my other favorites at the museum are the expressive hand sculptures:

Rodin – The Cathedral – Modeled 1908; cast 1925 – Bronze

(Although this one certainly reminds me of that scene in Carrie):

Rodin – The Hand from the Tomb – Modeled 1914; cast 1925 – Bronze

I really enjoyed this statue of Jules Bastien-Lepage. I love his palette and brush. I also can’t help wondering if this is the person after whom the glue was named (?):

Rodin – Jules Bastien-Lepage – Modeled 1887-1889; cast 1988 – Bronze Bronze

Outside the museum stands a sculpture of The Three Shades. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the shades, (the souls of the damned) stand at the entrance to Hell, pointing to an unequivocal inscription, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”. Originally created much smaller as part of the Gates of Hell doorway surround, Rodin made this larger model years later.

Rodin – The Three Shades from Gates of Hell – Modeled 1886; Cast 1928 – Bronze

Dick as the fourth shade as I’m singing “all the single ladies”…

This post is part one of a group of posts about my self-directed professional development in the summer of 2019. To see the others, search Summer Learning or 2019 Summer PD.

Leave a Reply