Letter from Rainer Maria Rilke to Auguste Rodin

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 -1926)

1908 (31 August)

Ink on paper

H. 18.2 cm ; W. 13.7 cm


This fine letter from one of the greatest German poets was the starting point of Rodin’s relationship with the Hôtel Biron, which would lead to the founding of the museum, in 1916. Rainer Maria Rilke was not yet 30 when he met Rodin in 1902. From the outset, he devoted himself to the man who had just been proclaimed the latest master sculptor. Rodin’s genius, combined with his rare capacity for work and instinctive originality, so fascinated Rilke that he made him his mentor. He constantly sought to translate Rodin’s poetic creations into words.


In 1905, so as to help the writer financially, Rodin invited him to stay at Meudon in exchange for some secretarial work, before abruptly dismissing him eight months later. Deeply hurt by Rodin’s overly cantankerous attitude towards him, Rilke nevertheless remained attached to the sculptor’s oeuvre, while his “intellectual admiration” fortunately prompted him to forget this misunderstanding.


It was Rilke who happened to find the Hôtel Biron, then divided into rented apartments, in 1908. He moved in and immediately told Rodin how charming it was. A few weeks later, Rodin installed his studio there for the rest of his life.


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