Yesterday at watercolor class I made a new friend and today we spent the day together. How wonderful to meet a kindred spirit, who also enjoy walking around Paris aimlessly, admiring the great architecture. She is from Russian origin but now lives in the UK with her Jewish boyfriend. We talked non-stop and she has the most intriguing story that sounds exactly like a movie, and she plans to write a novel describing these incredible true events. I hope she does, I want to buy the first copy hot from the press! It is true what they say that true events can be stranger than fiction.
We visited Musée Rodin where the sculptures are displayed outside in the garden. It was a nice sunny day, we strolled through the large gardens, which was the perfect setting for Rodin’s masterpieces. these are all bronze casts of his work. He was born in 1840 and died in 1917 at the age of 77. From 1854 – 1857 he studied at La Petite École. After finding his interest in sculpting, he made three attempts to be accepted at the École des Beaux-Arts, but failed the entrance exam. He then worked for various decorators and painters. When visiting Italy 1875-1876 he studied the works of Michelangelo and Donatello. While working in a porcelain factory he received a state commission for “The gates of Hell”, based on Dante’s “Devine Comedy.
Entering the garden, you find a group of 3 downcast figures, larger than life. Facing them is a bronze of the complex “Gates of Hell” comprising over 200 figures. The 3 figures on top pointing to the the inscription “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here”. Close up, all the figures in this work clearly depicts abandonment and despair. Rodin worked on this project from 1880 to 1890. In 1917 it was reconstructed in order to have it cast in bronze, the artist died before seeing this final cast.
When he sculpted, he first did a nude figure, which he then clothed and from that made the final sculpture. Inside the museum there are many photos of his work in progress. Victor Hugo, by then a famous author, refused to pose for Rodin, but did allow him into his house. Rodin set his workshop up on the veranda. Inside the house he would follow Victor Hugo around and make sketches as the writer was going about his daily life, eating breakfast or sitting down to write. Rodin would then hurry outside and work on the sculpture. What a way to start a masterpiece, more about that when I visit Palais-Royal where it is displayed.
No visit to this museum will be complete without “The Thinker”, no doubt thinking ‘how uncomfortable is this pose!’
We then took a walk around Les Invalides, the facade of this building is 196m long and topped by dormer windows, each decorated in the shape of a different trophy. Initially build form 1671-1676 by Louis XIV for his wounded and homeless veterans and as a monument to his own glory. It now houses a military museum. At the centre of les Invalides is the Dome church with a glittering golden roof, marking the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte. And finally I saw the Eiffel tower from close up. This perfect day was ended off with a late lunch at a Crêperie on St Louis. We were both delighted that the manager replied in French to our “French” and even seemed (or pretended) to understand what we said!