The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia

Anne Baker

The Rodin Museum Philadelphia

The Rodin Museum in Philadelphia boasts the largest collection of Rodin’s work outside of Paris. The Museum has recently gone under a rigorous renovation and has emerged with flying colors. It is nestled in between the Barnes and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and is truly a remarkable museum.  Rodin

The Gates Of Hell, Rodin, Rodin Museum Philadelphia, Cast 1926-28    

was a French sculptor through the late 1800’s up to early twentieth century. He worked mostly in bronze and plaster casts to create his work. When walking up to the Museum, I felt like I was in a European garden. Rodin’s sculptures are surrounded by intricately placed shrubbery; the feeling of a Parisian garden is one of the main themes to its design. Walking up to the entrance I saw The Gates of Hell.  I learned later that this was a bronze cast that Jules Mastbaum, the Museum founder, had requested the Rodin Museum in Paris make from the plaster cast that Rodin had created but never finished the bronze work before his death.

All Hope Abandon ye Who Enter Here, Engraving, Gustave Dore1    

When I entered the Museum, the first Bronze cast I saw was The Thinker in the main gallery. Panels explained how these individual pieces were put together to create compositions in The Gates of Hell.  The Gates of Hell took Rodin thirty seven years to make, consuming a great deal of his artistic career (The Gates of Hell). The work is drawn from the Influence of Dante’s Inferno, an epic journey through the different circles of Hell in which the traveler reaches a cold icy center.2  Rodin chooses a composition full of chaos and emotion which was successfully executed.

The Martyr, Rodin, Rodin Museum, Cast 1925
The Dying Slave, Michelangelo, Paris, Musée du Louvre 3    

The Rodin Museum does an excellent job of showing the process of what casting in bronze incorporates.  The Museum displays plaster casts, then the finished bronze cast.  This can be seen in Eternal Springtime; here you can observe the plaster cast of the figures and then the final product. 

 Eternal Springtime, Rodin, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, 1898-1918. 

Eternal Springtime, Rodin Museum, Philadelphia, plaster cast 1885   

There are two more galleries in the Museum that hold works that Rodin entered into competitions for monuments in Paris.  Most of his works did not get selected but they still exhibit his skill as a sculptor; some called him the Michelangelo of his time.  The other gallery exclusively exhibits studies by Rodin sculpture of the French author Honoré de Balzac. Balzac was a noted French novelist who wrote about French society and was considered to be a founder of Realism.The main Balzac bronze in the room is unique because the viewer cannot see the form of the body but just the massive cloak the covers him.

Overall the Rodin Museum is a remarkable experience and I encourage everyone to go and explore one of the great sculptors of the 20thcentury.

(most this information is courtesy of the Rodin Museum Website, please visit). 

Rodin Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .

1. “Dante’s Inferno.” Dante’s Inferno. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .
2. “Dante’s Inferno.” 
3. “Michelangelo (Buonarroti) “The Dying Slave”” The Dying Slave. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.    . 

4. “Honore De Balzac.” – New World Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .