Sunday, February 5, 2017

Pantheon and The Gates of Hell

Up the hill to the Pantheon
The Pantheon is so visible from our apartment that it seems to fill the window.  Today we walked the short uphill trek to visit it.  Originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and containing her relics, today it acts as a mausoleum for the remains of many distinguished French citizens.  The building is a beautiful example of neoclassicism.  The facade is modeled on the Pantheon in Rome.  The designer had the idea to use Gothic windows combined with classical principals to create a light and bright interior.  However, the mausoleum required the Gothic windows be blocked.  Nevertheless, the space is spectacular with paintings of St. Genevieve's life filling the aisles and sculptures scattered throughout.  Interred in the crypt are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola and on and on.  Marie Curie is the first woman buried there due to her own merit.  History was at our fingertips.

Musee Rodin Grounds with Gates of Hell

I've been to the Rodin Museum twice but either missed the grounds or have lost my memory.  Even in the dead of winter, they are impressive.  Of course, the sculptures do their part to enhance things.  The altar to the gardens is The Gates of Hell, which were commissioned as the entrance to the Decorative Arts Museum.  The Museum was never built, but Rodin continued to work on the piece for 37 years, until his death.  Somehow I find it amusing that the entrance to a decorative arts museum were the gates of hell. I've felt at times when caught in museum rooms dedicated to decorative arts, particularly French decorative arts, that this must be what hell is like.   Rodin based his door sculptures on characters from Dante's Inferno.  Particulars of the door were also sculpted as stand alone pieces such as The Thinker, The Three Shades, The Kiss.  The museum also contains many of Rodin's drawings and paintings, his collection that include Van Gogh and Renoir, and a room of Camille Claudel's works.  Claudel was a lover of Rodin but also a great sculptor in her own right.  Her life took a tragic turn and she was committed to an insane asylum for 30 years until her death.  Much as been written about her that describes her as a victim of her time and gender as well as her brother and mother.  

Our walk home took us past a pedestrian bridge that a friend had said was a great place to hang out.  Our hanging out usually is a 5 minute respite.  We managed as much and also made friends with the bridge musician.  More pics at flickr.