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Rodin Ups & Downs
For the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900, I had a pavilion built on Place de l’Alma where I could exhibit my works as I liked. After the exhibition, the pavilion was transported to the garden at Meudon, where it became my studio.
Before I became a sculptor, I loved to draw. My sculptures were like multi-dimensional drawings. I exhibited three hundred of them at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, I was very fond of those little sheets of paper!
I made a portrait of the Pope in Rome, but he would only sit for three sessions and it was difficult to capture impressions of his appearance in such a short time. He didn’t like my way of working. I came away with a lot of photographs and worked very hard to make something of the portrait. But the Pope was disappointed by the result.
I experienced old age as a trial, I was overwhelmed by despair. My career was punctuated by ordeals and scandals. I was worn out, weary both of slander and of lavish praise. The final battle for the creation of my museum exhausted me.
I discovered the hôtel Biron through Rainer Maria Rilke. A jewel of Rococo architecture, it was built by Jean Aubert in 1730. It took its name from the Maréchal de Biron, who owned it before the Revolution and gave it one of the finest gardens in the capital. I moved there in 1908, and soon planned to make it my museum.
I gave the State all my works in plaster, marble, bronze and stone, and my drawings, as well as the antiques collection that I had such pleasure in assembling for the education and training of artists and workers. And I asked the State to keep all these collections in the hôtel Biron, which would be the Musée Rodin. On December 15, 1916, the National Assembly voted to establish my museum in the Hôtel Biron.
I died on November 17, 1917, during World War I. I was buried at Meudon, with Rose. Now I am at one with Nature, and have no regrets.
Because of the war, three years went by between my donation and the opening of my museum on August 4, 1919 — almost a century ago. Now, over 600,000 visitors come from all over the world every year.
You know that I'm not clear, that writing and speaking put me in a muddle;
my natural resources are clay and pencil