The Musee Rodin or Rodin Museum is located near to Invalides and the Eiffel tower at at 79 rue de Varenne. In 1908 Auguste Rodin donated his entire collection to the French state many of which are now housed in this 18th century mansion that was once the Hotel Biron. There is also a secondary site located outside if Paris at Rodin's old home, the Villa des Brillants in Meudon, but it is at the Paris site where many of his most famous creations can be seen. Also here are a number of important works by Rodin’s student and sometime lover Camille Claudel.
The Musee Rodin contains a number of Rodin’s significant works such as The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, and The Kiss. Apart from the building itself, many of his works are on display throughout the magnificent gardens, for which there is a small additional charge. Apart from the sculptures which are displayed in a naturalistic state, the gardens, also contain a small lake and refreshment facilities.
Within the museum are many fine creations, mostly by Rodin but also a few works that once belonged to Rodin from such artists as Renoir, Van Gogh, and Monet. A room is also dedicated to the works of Camille Claudel who was a student of Rodin. They had a turbulent on-off affair which finally ended in 1913 when she was sent to an asylum, where she remained until her death in 1943, but the works of art on show here confirms her as an outstanding artist in her own right.
The Kiss is thought to be based on two characters from the Divine Comedy by Dante, and represent Paolo and Francesca who were discovered by Francesca’s husband exchanging their first kiss. Originally commissioned for the French state, it was carved between 1888 and 1898 and placed in the Musee du Luxembourg. It was moved to the Musee Rodin in 1919. This fluid and dynamic composition soon became a big hit with the public.
The Thinker has come to symbolise quiet deep intellectual thinking but was originally simply titled The Poet. It was originally part of the monumental Gates of Hell, but was then exhibited as an individual piece in 1888. It has since become one of the most famous sculptures in the world with many castings on display worldwide. The version that can now be seen at the Musee Rodin was previously exhibited outside of the Pantheon. A further version can be found adorning the tomb of Rodin and his wife at what was once their home in Meudon.
The Burghers of Calais is said to be of six leading figures from the town of Calais who in 1347 during what became popularly known as the Hundred Years War, they bravely volunteered themselves to be captives of the then English king Edward III when, it is said, that he demanded that the keys of the city be brought to him by six bareheaded citizens, with rope around their necks and dressed only in their shirts. It is claimed that it was act that saved the town from being destroyed.
Apart from the permanent collection, the Musee Rodin hosts regular temporary exhibitions. As the museum is so easy to get to, the visitor would be advised to order entrance tickets in advance in order to bypass the queues that can sometimes form during busy periods.