The garden

Presentation

Stretching over three hectares, the grounds were then divided into a rose garden, north of the Hôtel Biron, and a large ornamental garden, to the south, while a terrace and hornbeam hedge backing onto a trellis concealed a relaxation area, at the bottom of the garden. Pierced by three openings, this trellis reflects the design and proportions of the three bay windows on the mansion’s garden façade. Two thematic walks were also laid out: in the east, plants thrive amidst the rockery in the “Garden of Orpheus”, and, in the west, water is omnipresent in the “Garden of Springs”.

The garden of the hôtel Biron
The garden of the hôtel Biron


Rodin started to place selected works in the overgrown garden that he liked so much in 1908, together with some of the antiques from his personal collection. Male and female torsos, copies made in the Roman or modern period, after Greek works, were presented in these natural surroundings, their contours dappled by the sunlight: “Nature and Antiquity are the two great sources of life for an artist. In any event, Antiquity implies nature. It is its truth and its smile.” (Rodin)
The first bronzes were erected in the gardens before World War I. Since 1993, they have been regularly cleaned and treated so as to preserve their original patinas.

Vue de la Porte de l'Enfer derrière la roseraie
The Gates of Hell behind the rose garden

 

Archaeological excavation

Archaeological excavations were carried out in the garden in 2007. Numerous ceramic plant pots, decorated with landscapes or garlands of flowers, were discovered in a large refuse pit. We thus have a relatively clear idea of the furniture that adorned the garden paths in Marshal Biron’s time. There was also a cowshed on the duke’s estate (the mansion was then practically in the countryside). Several fragments of terracotta draining racks used in making cheese came to light, too.
Lastly, the excavations uncovered various fragments of statues and decorative plaques. Some of these ornamental sculptures, adorned with subjects related to nature and the seasons (sheaves of corn, baskets of grapes) may have come from the groups of children representing the four seasons that stood around the ornamental pool in the 18th century.

Ceramic plant pots, 18th centuryCeramic plant pots, 18th century

 

The marble gallery

Exposed to the elements in the gardens of the museum, Rodin’s marbles were gradually covered in moss and began to deteriorate. In 1995, it was decided to exhibit them in the Marble Gallery, now protected by wide glass windows. This manner of presentation has enabled us to increase the number of works displayed and to arrange them thematically. Rodin’s marbles have always been much admired by the public and ensured his ongoing celebrity.

The marble galleryThe marble gallery

 

The marble galleryThe marble gallery