One of the first pieces at the museum that struck my fancy was The Gates of Hell, a depiction of Dante contemplating the depths of the underworld and the anguish of the sinners doomed to there spend their existence. I of course thoroughly enjoyed my perusal of The Inferno back in high school and so I appreciated the opportunity to inspect this depiction. And who doesn't love another round of "Be the Statue"?
|The Gates of Hell, with Samantha as The Thinker|
The Thinker is probably one of the best known works by Rodin, but it is not commonly known that he is part of the above larger work. A nice reminder that sometimes we just need to ponder about life. Funny story with this one: we almost skipped it entirely, as Lauri was so anxious to get to the next site, the tomb of Napolean Bonaparte in L'Hôtel des Invalides. I wasn't in any particular mood to trek down the long stretch of path to inspect it up close, nor did I have a desire to battle the hoards of little red-capped school children who at that moment were flocking the base, so I contented myself to hang back with Lauri and admire from a distance as our comrades sallied forth. As we were thus standing, she made mention of her mental rush. "Man, I was just so focused! 'Gotta get to the tomb! Get the people to the tomb!'" I quickly responded, "The universal march." The hilarity of the exchange sunk in afterward and we made quite a scene, cackling uncontrollably as we were. The next hour was punctuated with giggles and guffaws on its recollection. Wit is so much easier in Europe!
|The Burghers of Calais|
Happily, the queen of England learned of the Burghers' plight and convinced her husband to let them go free, valuing their bravery and sacrificial humility. But the figures here do not yet know how the story ends. That, I think, is part of it's greatness.
This one was incredible to me just for sheer craftsmanship. You can really only see it from this side, with the light shining through to outline the figures. That, my friends, is marble. Marble! And yes, it is paper-thin to allow that light through. Simply stunning...or, as Lauri would say in her simple stating-the-facts manner, "Beauty."
This story is touchingly depressing. Camille Claudel began working with Rodin at age 18 and was quite talented. The two had a passionately stormy relationship; long story short, she gave her whole soul to him, but he would not marry her because of a woman named Rose, whose relationship to Rodin is not quite clear. Claudel became pregnant with Rodin's child, but had an abortion which sent her into a downward spiral of depression and other mental illness until she was put in an assylum. L'Age Mûr depicts Claudel as "l'implorante," begging the man she loves to stay with her whilst he is being whisked away by Rose, a grisly specter reminiscent of a siren. Though she never knew the love she longed for, she went on to create some of the most well-known and romantic pieces of the period, which for a time were attributed to Rodin, the very cause of her anguish.
I read somewhere that Rodin believed that the emotion of the entire body could be depicted through the hands alone. I wonder if he really thought that, or if it was indeed Camille Claudel, as it is likely that it was she who supplied the hands and feet for most of his sculptures. Either way, from works like this one, I am inclined to believe it.
Camille Claudel knew the face of Rodin so well that she was able to create this from memory. Compared to Wikipedia's photo, I'd say she did rather well indeed.
|Bust of Auguste Rodin|