France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Musée Bourdelle, Paris, France
Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle was an assistant and peer of Auguste Rodin, and also a teacher and renowned artist.

Musée Bourdelle, Paris
One of Bourdelle's busts
of Beethoven.


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Sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929) may not be as well known as Auguste Rodin, but his works are strong and important in the history of art.

The Musée Antoine Bourdelle, on the street of the same name in Paris (map), includes the studio where he worked, preserved as it was in his time, and his apartment. In addition, the Grand Hall was built in 1961 to house his monumental works in plaster. These include the Monument to General Alvear, with its four allegorical statues; La France; and Sapho.

Bourdelle's Works

Among his most famous works are the large frieze he created for the Théatre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Despite its name, the theater is actually on the Rue Montaigne (map). This three-panel work depicts the meditating Apollo, with the muses running toward him. The plaster works are in the Grand Hall, while bronze forms grace the upstairs terrace.

Musée Bourdelle, Paris
Two panels from the frieze for the Théatre des Champs-Elysées.

The Théatre des Champs-Élysées was the first example of art deco in Paris. Built between 1911 and 1913, at the height of art nouveau, it represented a major stylistic change and was, of course, quite controversial at the time. Looking at Bourdelle's work, it is interesting to see his style move between art nouveau and art deco.

Several additional rooms in the museum showcase Bourdelle's works, ranging from a collection of busts of Beethoven, to the First Victory of Hannibal to a gracious porcelain head of can-can dancer Jane Avril, made by the Haviland Company of Limoges.

Sculpture Gardens

In addition, two large gardens, one facing the street and one interior to the museum, hold many examples of Bourdelle's large bronze works. You can get an overhead view of the front garden from the terrace, where there are also many sculpted busts, including writer Anatole France and painter Ingres.

The Aile Portzamparc was added to the museum in 1992 to house three large monuments. The same wing houses temporary exhibitions.

Visiting the Museum

The Musée Bourdelle is one of the Museums of the City of Paris, which means that admission to the permanent collections is free (small contributions are appreciated, and there is a fee for temporary exhibitions).

In addition, as one of the smaller and less known museums, it's likely to be much less crowded than the "big name" places. The day I visited I saw perhaps a dozen others and was able to enjoy the art at my own relaxed pace. The museum is closed Monday.

Fun fact: If you really like Bourdelle, you can also visit the Musée Jardin Bourdelle in the tiny town of Egreville, about 100 kilometers southeast of Paris (map). Started by his heirs, this lovely garden museum contains many of his sculptures. You will also find works by Bourdelle at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Métro: Montparnasse-Bienvenüe, Falguière, or Pasteur
Bus: 28, 58, 70, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96

Musée Antoine Bourdelle
18, rue Antoine Bourdelle
Paris 75015
+33 (0)1 49 54 73 73

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Musée Bourdelle, Paris

Above, Le Livre, in Colored Plaster, 1925.

Below, Large sculptures in the interior garden.


Musée Bourdelle, Paris

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