We got up early to enjoy our last breakfast together in Paris. Nick, Lisa and A.J. all left via the train that morning. Russ and I went to the train station to help Nick and family load all their luggage on the train (babies need a lot of stuff) and to say our good-byes. They took the train from Paris, France to Amsterdam, Holland which was about 4 or 5 hours, then they boarded their plane home to Vancouver. It was a long day but they made it just fine according to Nick’s email.
After the train station, Russ and I visited the Rodin Museum. There was an exposition of Matisse and Rodin which examined the parallels between these two artists. We both preferred Rodin’s style and were surprised at how many sculptures he actually did during his lifetime. Rodin was born in 1840 and died in 1917, at the age of 77. During his early teens he attended art school in France. At the age of 18 he started working for sculptors, decorators, ornamentalists and jewelers. Rodin soon branched out on his own because he did not like it when another artist’s name was engraved onto his work. Apparently, Rodin started his art career sculpting figurines used to decorate buildings and churches. Later when he was famous people would commission him to do their sculptures. Rodin used real people for his models and he would first sketch them by not looking at his paper. As his models moved he continued sketching. This technique allowed him to capture the movement of muscles in the human body. From these sketches he would make his sculptures. (The whole process is very complicated, first sculpting a clay figure, then casting a mold, then pouring in metal and eventually finishing the bronze statue by polishing and removing the seam marks of the mold). Rodin was so good at his craft that he was accused of casting a mold from a real life.
In 1864 when he was 24 years old he met Rose Beuret (aged 20), who became his life-long companion. They had a son together in 1866 but unfortunately for everyone, Rodin never recognized him as his son. In 1883 Rodin (aged 43) met Camille Claudel (aged 18) who became his student and mistress. She was an excellent artist and under Rodin’s tutelage , eventually sculpted the hands and feet on many of his figures. Apparently, hands are the most difficult pieces to sculpt. In 1898, they broke up and she did her most famous sculpture called “Maturity”. This is a sculpture of a young nude woman kneeling down and stretching out her hand to a man who is walking away with another woman. Camille sculpted the other woman as much older, wrinkled and ugly but the man is still leaving the younger woman with the older woman. This sculpture represents Camille and Rodin’s breakup and the fact that he chose to stay with Rose Beuret. After their breakup Camille led a life of destruction and in 1913 was committed to a mental hospital where she remained until her death many years later. Question, did the breakup cause her to go insane or was she borderline when Rodin and her had their affair and that is why he left her?
In 1902 Rodin met another woman, Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet who became his secretary. Frankly this guy was a womanizer! Poor Rose who stayed with him, even when he did not recognize their child as his?? I guess to perfect his nudes he needed to see and test out the different models available. Much like going to school, his education was achieved by testing out different women and noting how their body parts worked. Anyway, Rodin finally married his life-long companion, Rose Beuret on January 29th in 1917 unfortunately she died February 14th of the same year (they were married 16 days)! Rodin also died that same year in November. Rose and Rodin are buried together in Meudon and their tomb is dominated by his statue “The Thinker”.
Some of the most famous pieces by Rodin are: “The Thinker”, which is a nude man sitting and leaning forward with his elbow on his knee and his hand bent towards his body holding up his head under the chin; “The Kiss” which is very erotic and the bust of Victor Hugo. Rodin also did a bronze gate called “The Gates of Hell” which used many of his sculptures in different positions. One of his earlier pieces completed when he was 25 years old was a sculpture of a young girl with a hat. Ironically, we have a copy of that sculpture (not an exact copy but a very similar copy) at Abigail’s Hotel.
For lunch Russ and I went to a favourite restaurant of mine, Pino’s on Champs-Elysées. I love this restaurant because they have a second floor which looks over this famous boulevard which allows you to people watch while you eat a great meal. Dinner that evening was quiet with just Sandy, Ray, Russ and I. We all missed A.J., Lisa and Nick! And of course because we were leaving Paris in the morning Russ had to show Ray and Sandy the Bois de Boulogne. This park is world famous for it’s illicit sex romps with prostitutes and transvestites standing at the side of the road barely concealed in the bushes of the park. The park is 900 hectares and located very close to our hotel so we took a cab ride around the park before retiring for the night.