January 15, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - ,, No comments

Postcard from Paris: The Rodin Museum highlights the sculptor's antiquities collection and its influence on his work

Hotel Biron remains under renovation
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
 ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

PARIS - The Musée Rodin's exhibit "Rodin, the Light of Antiquity" highlights the the relationship the sculptor had with his collection of about 6,000 antiquities -- most of them fragments of Etruscan, Greek and Roman sculptures -- that he collector over a period of 25 years. Rodin's deal to donate his works included his plan to keep his antiquities collection intact and on display at the Hotel Biron and its gardens.

Today the Hotel Biron, which houses the museum's permanent collection, was closed and a big tent dominated the rear garden.

The exhibit (which forbid photographs) points out the influence of August Rodin's trip to Italy in 1875-1876 and his studies (and drawings) of antiquity fragments such as The Belvedere Torso on The Thinker (who sits on a capital), sayiing that Rodin realized 'that the fragment was as powerful and complete as the whole'. When Rodin purchased "Heracles resting", he began to plan to one day open an antiquities museum and constructed a building at his home outside of Paris. Rodin felt influenced by the Greek sculptor Phidias and the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo (the exhibit has two plaster casts of The Dying Slave and The Rebellious Slave which Rodin could visit at the Louvre. Rodin's female figures were inspired by the Venus de Milo (Aphrodite). Rodin collected more than one hundred fragments of Roman Venuses (Rodin opposed the idea of restoring the Venus de Milo, preferring the original Greek sculpture as it was). Rodin read Ovid and Apuleius and created works using casts from ancient objects and fitting in his sculptures.

The exhibit displayed Rodin's Iris-Aphrodite, a 2nd century encrusted bronze; The Rodin Cup, an Etruscan object; and the Canosa vase Rodin admired from the Louvre. [Here's a link to an article, "An Etruscan Imitation of An Attic Cup", on the Rodin Cup in the Journal of Hellenistic Studies.]

BeauxArts éditions published (French only) the exhibit catalogue, "Rodin, La Lumière de l'antique". The bookstore also sells "Rodin, Antiquity Is My Youth" (2002, edited by Bénédicte Garnier). The exhibit closes on February 16.