The Musee Bourdelle is a museum in Paris dedicated to featuring works from the artist and sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, which is to be found within the studio and apartment where he worked and lived from 1885 in the Montparnasse area.
When you enter the museum one of the first rooms you would most likely come across is the Great Hall which was added extension in 1961 to commemorate a century after his birth. It was made to hold some monumental plaster works, such as one named the Monument to the General Alvear and another called the Dying Centaur, and there is also a bronze copy of this which can be found on display in the courtyard garden.
Another area you can visit is the front garden with a gallery and terrace and it holds one of Antoine Bourdelle’s more signature pieces, called Heracles the Archer.
Further along in the Musee Bourdelle you can find a room which forms part of the house where the sculptor lived from 1885, and even if he did move to a different apartment in 1918 he still used to come to work daily and entertain any visitors here. Which also makes this room a great place to discover some of the more personal items and a few collections he gained himself.
Another place you can find are the studios where Bourdelle would have worked, where the rooms were faithfully preserved by his wife Cleopatre Sevastos and his daughter Rhodia and include the pastels he would have used and much more.
The studio not only includes items he would use to draw but also materials, which show the variety of work he created, including wood and bronze. But not only was it for himself, it was for other students whom were taught by him, including Aristide Maillol, Henri Matisse and Germaine Richer.
There is also a private courtyard garden at the museum in Paris, which holds a lot of the earlier works by Antoine, including Hannibals First Victory, Sappho and also the Dying Centaur bronze which was mentioned previously.
Another extension had to be built in 1992 which was designed by Christian de Portzamparc, who is also known for designing the Cite de la Musique located within the Parc de la Villette, and the new section at Musee Bourdelle allows two commemorative monuments including the Monument to the polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. Additionally this wing also holds temporary exhibitions, is a place for conversation and is home to a resource centre and a graphic arts room.
The main artist himself, Antoine Bourdelle, was born in 1861 within the Midi Pyrenees, which is where he went to school until he enrolled into the Toulouse School of Fine Art, also in the same region of France, when he was only fifteen years old.
At twenty four Antoine won a scholarship to go to Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, and took the opportunity, at the same time taking resident at the studio of another sculptor, Alexandre Falguiere. In 1893 he became the assistant sculptor for Auguste Rodin which the partnership lasted for about fifteen years until 1908.
Later on he worked as a teacher but still at the same time worked on his own sculpting and the occasional architectural work, helping to draw up plans for the Theatre des Champs Elysees, as well as creating a series of Frescos as well as the decorative marble sculpture, which can be found on the front of the building, located closed to the Avenue des Champs Elysees.
Although, it was not until a year before his death in 1929 that he started to gain true recognition for his work, having gained popularity for his monument to honour Adam Mickiewicz which was inaugurated some months before he died in the October of that year.
After his death his wife Cleopatre, daughter Rhodia and son-in-law Michel Dufet wished to carry on his dream to dedicate a museum to his own work, which they also believed Antoine deserved the recognition for his fantastic works.
Eventually, the Musee Bourdelle opened to the public in 1949, and it was also in the same year that the Montparnasse area was being changed and improved which the road name also got changed to honour the sculptor with the new name of Rue Antoine Bourdelle.
But getting back to the Musee Bourdelle you can be pleased to know that is accessible for those which are disabled, with lift access to different levels, disabled toilets and large print tour guides for those with sight problems.
Now there are an estimated 6000 graphic works, 2000 plaster sculptures, 2200 bronze works, 198 paintings and an incredible 13000 photographs. But that doesn’t include the personal collection of Antoine Bourdelle as well as the major archive section the museum holds.
This makes the Musee Bourdelle one of the more unusual tourist attractions to visit while on Holiday in Paris, with a lot of history, various works of art and styles to look at, that are suitable for everyone to enjoy.
Holiday in France – Published by Kate Davis – European traveller and author of travel to guides to Paris holidays along with research for French monuments, tourist attractions, museums and much more by helping people to get the most out of a holiday in Paris. – Musee Bourdelle