Rodin and the Middle Ages

Rodin and the Middle Ages

  • Project leads : C. Lancestremère ; V. Mattiussi
  • Calendar : Until 2023


Although hardly anything has been published on the subject, it has been studied for several years now at the museum, with particular reference to the archives and Rodin’s collection of antiquities. The prospect of a future exhibition is an opportunity to make it a priority project.

Objectives in terms of research:

The research aims to discover the essential link between Rodin and the Middle Ages / medieval art and to grasp the highly personal way in which Rodin was influenced by them. The medieval period was a lifelong and ever-present subject of interest to him, and one that he constantly reinterpreted and reappropriated; this is reflected in his travels and his notebooks, notes and drafts. Interest in the subject was not unusual at the time, but it took a particular form in Rodin’s case. Few formal links with his work are to be seen; what needs to be highlighted and characterised is a different kind of influence and permeation. There are several different perspectives from which the medieval period can be studied as a key to interpreting Rodin’s work, including the following:

  • Academic knowledge versus sensitive, poetic perception
  • The link between Rodin’s view of the Middle Ages and his art (the importance of architecture, The Gates of Hell, Balzac…);
  • Sculpture as an art of construction
  • The importance of light – a key factor in architecture and sculpture
  • Rodin’s attitude to the restoration of contemporary monuments
  • The analogies Rodin made between the art of cathedrals and nature, women, and the art of other civilisations
  • Rodin’s book The Cathedrals of France, his artistic testament
  • The sources of the medieval objects in Rodin’s collection in the light of the early 20th-century art market and the taste for medieval art.

The main sources to explore are Rodin’s (published and manuscript) writings, his archives and library (books, sales catalogues, relations with antiques dealers, acquisitions of works, personal and iconographic documentation), and his artworks (sculptures, drawings).

Showcasing the research results:

  • For the duration of the research project: communications, articles, corpus published online…
  • Exhibition (scheduled for autumn 2023), catalogue and symposium
  • Republication of the Cathedrals of France (1914), with a new critical apparatus