The Rodin Museum, which holds one of the country's largest collections of works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin, will reopen February 7 after undergoing a full-scale reinstallation focusing on the sculptor's remarkable achievements as a portraitist.
The new presentation will showcase the sculptor's most iconic portraits, as well as exceptional works that have not been on view for several years. It will bring together a group of works that embody the artist's realist spirit, offering a broader understanding of Rodin's contribution to the formation of modern art.
Among the highlights are busts demonstrating Rodin's varied approach in pursuing portrait commissions, including those of such notable figures as Pope Benedict XV, composer Gustav Mahler, and publishing magnate Joseph Pulitzer. The artist's depiction of Madame Vicuña, the wife of the Chilean ambassador to Paris, was the favored sculpture at the Salon of 1888—a validating moment in the sculptor's career. The portraits also include a number of celebrated French writers, among them Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo, and Barbey d'Aurevilly, and several fellow artists such as Jules Dalou, Alphonese Legros, John-Paul Laurens, and Eugène Guillaume. These works will be highlighted within a broader narrative of Rodin's life, his career, and the culture of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Paris. Also of great interest is The Athlete, a work that conveys Rodin's fascination with anatomical detail. The model for this work was Samuel Stockton White III, the only Philadelphian to model for Rodin.
Rodin's romantic life also figures in the installation and is reflected in works for which the models were his long-time companion and wife Rose Beuret, and his close artistic collaborator and lover Camille Claudel, who was described by a contemporary as "something unique, a natural rebel, a woman of genius." Thought, which presents Camille's elegant head rising from a rugged block of marble, suggests the power of the mind and Rodin's genius for transforming materials. Rodin, who married Rose only in the last year of their lives, conveys her as the spirited jealous lover in Mignon, also the title character of an 1866 opera by Ambroise Thomas.
In 2012, when the Rodin Museum reopened following extensive renovations, the inaugural installation focused on the genesis of the artist's seminal masterpiece, The Gates of Hell. In the new installation, numerous figures that developed out of The Gates of Hell will be reconsidered under the lens of portraiture, including such favorites as The Thinker. In the main gallery, Henri Gréber's marble replica of Rodin's The Kiss will remain on view, introducing the notion that many couples claimed to have served as models for the lovers, but the sitters who posed for it remain anonymous today.
The Rodin Museum will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Monday. It will be closed on Tuesdays.
The Rodin Museum and its collection has been administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art since 1929. The Philadelphia Museum of Art gratefully acknowledges the contributions of our many visionary donors who have made, and continue to make, projects like the restoration and renovation of the Rodin Museum possible.