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Paris Art Sculpture

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Paris Rodin Museum celebrates centenary

Photo of Rodin Rfi / Anne-Marie Bissada

The Rodin Museum, home to the works of the famed French sculptor François-Auguste René Rodin, celebrates its 100th birthday on 4 August.

The museum was initially housed in a mansion called the Peyrenc de Moras Hotel, now known as the Biron Hotel. It was built in Paris between 1727 and 1732 for the wealthy financier Abraham Peyrenc de Moras.

The estate was put up for sale in 1905. In the meantime, tenants could occupy Biron Hotel.

Among the tenants were Jean Cocteau, Henri Matisse and others who eventually told Rodin about the estate.

Biron Hôtel, now known as the Musée Rodin in Paris Rfi / Anne-Marie Bissada

Finally in 1908, Rodin rented four south-facing, ground floor rooms to use as his studios.

And from 1911 onwards, he occupied the entire building, while keeping his main house in Meudon, just outside Paris.

Rodin at work in his studio Rfi / Anne-Marie Bissada

The property was finally sold to the French government in 1911.

All occupants were asked to leave except Rodin who entered into negotiations with the state, explaining that he wished to see the property used to house his works.

I give the State all my works in plaster, marble, bronze, and stone and my drawings as well as the collection of antiquities that I had such pleasure sin assembling for the education and training of artists and workers. And I ask the State to keep all these collections in the Biron Hotel, which will be the Musée Rodin, reserving the right to reside there all my life
Rodin, 1909

That wish was granted in 1916 when the French National Assembly voted to accept the sculptor’s three donations and position them in the mansion and garden calling it the Musée Rodin. The doors were finally opened to the public in 1919, the artist having died two years earlier.

Legacy of Rodin

“When I met Rodin, my voice dried up. I couldn’t say a word to him and stood among the statues like one of them myself” wrote author Stefan Zweig in his memoir The World of Yesterday.

Zweig writes about meeting Rodin in 1905 in Meudon, at a time when the artist had become world-renowned at the age of 65.

But the sculptor’s rise to fame didn’t come easily and his unexpected foray into sculpture wasn’t obvious from the start.