Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rodin Museum

I spent this past long holiday weekend in lovely Philadelphia and while there visited the Rodin Museum.Designed in 1929 by one of my favorite architects, Paul Cret (Here and Here), the museum and garden were built to house the largest collection of Rodin's work outside of Paris, collected by Jules Mastbaum.

Located right on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the heart of Philly's City Beautiful movement area, this beaux arts neo-classical styled building graces a lovely green plot and garners quite a lot of attention with Rodin's famous "The Thinker" standing guard!

A replica of the ruined facade of the old Chateau D'Issy graces the front of the garden, providing a gateway into the museum. Rodin had installed the chateau's facade in his own garden in Meudon, France.Inside the courtyard, gravel paving, fragrant lavendar and shade trees seperate you from the busy parkway outside. Shallow steps gracefully bring you up to the recessed entry through Doric columns.

While no longer the main entrance to the museum, Rodin's "Gates of Hell" -originally designed for the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris - still stand outside despite being his most important work of art. Rodin worked on this doorway, which incorporates more than 100 separate figures, from 1880 until his death in 1917.

The movement in this piece was really incredible and lifelike.

One of his most famous sculptures was actually a study for this gateway, The Thinker (1880-1882).

Cret included a number of his own sculpted designs such as these bronze lion heads on the entry doors flanking Rodin's gates.

This was a period in Cret's career where he was transitioning from the Neoclassical design favored by the Beaux Arts into a more streamlined, Art deco style seen in these light fixtures below.

No one did it like Cret in my opinion! Following a discussion with a friend, no great building has a forgotten 'back side'. For example, above is the 'back' of the Rodin museum; better than most front facades, wouldn't you say?The Rodin museum is currently at the end of an intensive restoration but will be open to the public in the spring of 2012. Until then, the gardens are still open for viewing.