The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 11, Rodin)

File:The Thinker, Rodin.jpg

The Thinker (1879–1889) is among the most recognized works in all of sculpture. In fact, below you can see Paul who constantly is showing up Gil with his knowledge about these pieces of art. He shows off while describing Rodin’s life story when all four of them are taking in “The Thinker.” However, he is set straight by the museum worker (French  First Lady, Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy). She is pictured below on the bench with Gil.

“Paul: If I am not mistaken Rodin’s work was influenced by his wife, Camille.
Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy:[French First Lady] Rose was the wife.
Paul: No he was not married to Rose.”

Rodin’s Funeral in Meudon,
November 24, 1917

Photograph by Pierre Choumoff, 1917
Musée Rodin inventory Ph 1009
Gelatin silver print
© Cabinet des Photographies Anciennes

I am currently going through all the writers and artists mentioned in Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris.” Today I will look at Rodin. By the way, I know that some of you are wondering how many posts I will have before I am finished. Right now I have plans to look at Coco Chanel, Modigliani, Matisse, Luis Bunuel, Josephine Baker, Van Gogh, Picasso, Man Ray, T.S. Elliot and several more.

Photo of a bearded man wearing a beret, looking into the distance.
Birth name François-Auguste-René Rodin
Born 12 November 1840(1840-11-12)
Died 17 November 1917(1917-11-17) (aged 77)
Meudon, Île-de-France
Nationality French
Field Sculpture, drawing
Works The Age of Bronze (L’age d’airain), 1877
The Walking Man (L’homme qui marche), 1877–78
The Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais), 1889
The Kiss, 1889The Thinker (Le Penseur), 1902
Awards Légion d’Honneur

In the movie “Midnight in Paris” we have this exchange:

“Paul: If I am not mistaken Rodin’s work was influenced by his wife, Camille.
Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy:[French First Lady] Rose was the wife.
Paul: No he was not married to Rose.”

It appears that Rose was the wife.

During his last year Rodin married his lifetime companion Rose Beuret on January 29, 1917. Rose died three weeks later and Rodin followed shortly, passing away on November 17, 1917. Friends and dignitaries came to Rodin’s funeral to see him laid to rest beside Rose at Meudon with The Thinker at the base of his tomb.

The Dr. Coleman A. Mopper Memorial Lecture at the DIA

October 4, 2005 (Detroit)—Marie Cheffer, sister; Rose Beuret, mistress and wife; Camille Claudel, lover and colleague—these women influenced the life and extraordinary art of famed sculptor Auguste Rodin.  Their personal and professional relationships with Rodin are the topic of this year’s annual Dr. Coleman A. Mopper Memorial Lecture at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) on Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. Ruth Butler, world-renowned Rodin expert, professor emeriti at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and author of the book “Rodin: The Shape of Genius,” presents a compelling perspective on Rodin’s work by focusing on the women who influenced his career, creativity and life. Butler will also reveal her speculations regarding the end of his relationship with his mistress for over 50 years, then finally his wife, Beuret, during their time in Paris and nearby Meudon, France. 

Auguste Rodin in Sculptor’s Smock
Photograph by Hippolyte Charles Aubry, 1862
Musée Rodin inventory Ph 4
Gelatin silver print
© Cabinet des Photographies Anciennes


The French first lady says no more than four words in the two-minute trailer for Midnight in Paris, a romantic comedy set in the French capital in which she plays a museum curator.

The wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy appears in the gardens of the capital’s Rodin Museum dedicated to the 19th century sculptor August Rodin and the sculptress Camille Claudel, also his mistress.

One of the two male protagonists played by Michael Sheen says: “If I’m not mistaken Rodin’s work was influenced by his wife, Camille.”

“Rose was the wife,” says Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy.

“No he was never married to Rose,” he replies erroneously.

The trailer shows picture postcard shots of the City of Lights, with captions, “Paris in the morning is beautiful, Paris in the afternoon is charming, Paris is enchanting in the evening, but Paris after midnight is magic.”

The plot revolves around a family travelling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.

The film, described as a “marvellous love letter to Paris” will open this year’s Cannes film festival on May 11. It also stars Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams.

Mr Allen recently scotched rumours during the shooting in Paris that a wooden Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy took 32 takes to shoot a single scene saying: “This is a hundred per cent untrue.”

“She’s in the picture. Everything she shot is in the picture. I love her. She’s great. It’s not a big part, but it’s a respectable part.”

Rodin in 1917 posing with friends and associates in front of the full scale plaster version of The Gates of Hell at Meudon. Left to right: two practitioners: Léonce Bénédite (first curator of the Musée Rodin); Rodin; his foreman, Henri Lebossé; Eugène Rudier; and another practitioner.

(photo, collection Robert Descharnes)

It would be impossible to overstate the significance of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) to the history of art. More than any other sculptor since Michelangelo, Rodin changed the face of figurative sculpture and ushered in a whole new era of artistic expression. Many know Rodin for his famous controversies—the scandal around the Age of Bronze or the Monument to Honoré de Balzac—or for his unfinished projects, most famously The Gates of Hell. But few who recognize Rodin’s works have failed to be moved by them. The innovations he introduced into sculpture were elaborated by countless artists who followed him, including many who worked in his studio, such as Constantin Brancusi and Aristide Maillol.

This Tuesday, May 31, 2011 photo shows a visitor in the garden of the Rodin museum in Paris. Spend a day, and a de rigeur night, here and you can walk hand-in-hand with Woody Allen through the City of Light he portrays in “Midnight in Paris,” his sweet and zany Valentine to the French capital. In an instant anyone can amble down the 21st-century streets of this walking city. AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere.By: Elaine Ganley, Associated Press
PARIS (AP).- “Parlez-moi d’amour.” Speak to me of love.

This is Paris and the language is love — crazy love — amid the creative folly of a city whose ethereal beauty and bawdy underside spell magic.Spend a day, and a de rigueur night, here and you can walk hand-in-hand with Woody Allen through the City of Light he portrays in “Midnight in Paris,” his sweet and zany valentine to the French capital.Amble down the 21st-century streets of this walking city, and like Allen’s leading character, Gil (played by Owen Wilson), you could be swept into the past, with the iconic 1930s tune that haunts the movie whispering “Speak to me of love” in your ear.In Allen’s Paris, there is no place for rude taxi drivers or haughty waiters.”I wanted to show the city emotionally, the way I felt about it,” Allen said during a news conference last month in Cannes, where “Midnight in Paris” opened this year’s film festival. “It didn’t matter to me how real it was or what it reflected.”It was, he added, “Paris through my eyes.”

Visiting some of the postcard venues Allen splashes from the camera — like temples of gastronomy such as Le Grand Vefour on the Right Bank or Laperouse on a Left Bank quai — requires reservations and deep pockets.

Other don’t-miss sites, as well as some hidden delights packed with the Paris of yesteryear, are accessible to all. But don’t bother with a plan. Like leading man Gil, a Hollywood hack writer dreaming of penning that great novel, just soak up the atmosphere by wandering the Left Bank of the Seine river, the artsy and intellectual side of the city and the colorful heart of Woody’s Paris.

Then, step into Deyrolle at 46 rue du Bac, steps from the Metro of that name. Only in Paris could a taxidermy and curiosity shop be a source of inspiration to artists and occasionally their gathering place. Deyrolle, which dates from 1831, is imbued with history and magic.

You’ll begin to understand the eclectic ambiance that fed the souls of the “lost generation” of American writers from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Ernest Hemingway, and the likes of Picasso, Modigliani and others.

Climb the stairs to the wondrous menagerie, and into another dimension. You will be greeted by a lion at rest, the heads of deer, elk and other woodland and jungle creatures. Then comes the magnificent polar bear who makes a brief but notable appearance in “Midnight in Paris,” at a soiree hosted by Fitzgerald and his zany wife Zelda.

Owner Prince Louis Albert de Broglie (pronounced de broy) is a modern-day nobleman, preserving the heritage of Deyrolle. But he also makes it his mission to contribute to protecting the species that populate Deyrolle and pass the message of sustainable development.

“Our idea is not to sell an elephant a day but to give a little part of this magical place” to others, he said, stressing that animals on display here succumbed to natural deaths at zoos, circuses and elsewhere. “You cannot protect anything if you don’t know it,” he said.

“Deyrolle always received artists,” from Surrealist writer Andre Breton to Salvador Dali (given a cameo comeback in Allen’s film), de Broglie said. “Today, many are inspired by Deyrolle.”

Artists came to the rescue when Deyrolle was almost lost to a devastating fire in 2008, helping fund reconstruction with an auction.

While the polar bear and other large creatures go for princely sums, there are souvenirs a visitor can take away, from books to a line of gardening products, “Le Prince Jardinier,” with items starting at as little as a few euros.

Now, on to the next stop. Paris opens its panoply of wonder if the visitor walks down the Boulevard Saint-Germain to Saint-Germain des Pres, dotted by famed literary cafes. Turn left down rue Bonaparte toward the Seine, or get lost in the winding streets on the way. At some point, hit the quai of the Seine.

The true wanderer may take hours to reach Shakespeare and Company at 37 rue de la Bucherie, not far from the Saint Michel Metro in the 5th arrondissement, and just across the street from Notre Dame Cathedral. But that’s all the more reason to get there.

In his movie, Allen only winks with the camera at the shop, an institution steeped in the history of expatriate Americans. A visitor can curl up in a comfy nook, good book in hand, resting feet and soul until 11 p.m.

The original site of legendary literary matron Sylvia Beach, a magnet for English-speaking expats like Hemingway, Fitzgerald and the Irish James Joyce, was on the rue de l’Odeon not far from 27 rue de Fleurus where Gertrude Stein, writer, art collector and friend of Picasso lived with lover Alice B. Toklas — and who is featured in Allen’s film (played by Kathy Bates).

Shakespeare and Company got a second life in 1951, at the spot filmed in the movie. It, too, drew the expats, and still does.

Here, books — first, second- and thirdhand — line the walls, and floors, stacked in no particular order, with shelves on the patio outside the front door.

“My father says it’s a Socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore,” said Sylvia Whitman, whose father took over from Beach and who now runs the shop.

A half-dozen writers can lodge there at a time in exchange for a hand in the shop. They also can visit with George Whitman, now 97 and living on the third floor.

“Some people who come are literally on a mission. Others have heard from friends that it’s a quirky place,” said his 30-year-old daughter. “For me, it’s a total fairytale land.”

There’s constant foot traffic in the bookstore at this time of year, so Whitman doesn’t know if the movie is bringing in new visitors. And while fans of the movie may not realize that Allen is a writer as well as a filmmaker, Whitman says the store has always sold his books.

But now it’s time to go back in time, moving deeper into the Left Bank by ascending the rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Genevieve, one of Paris’ most ancient streets. Turning away from the Seine, toward the Metro stop Maubert-Mutualite, one can spot it.

Despite a history dating from antiquity, the street today, paved and bustling, is undistinguished — until the end of the journey. At the top of the hill, cobblestones appear as the street spills onto a church, Saint-Etienne du Mont, first built in the 12th century.

Here, Gil, waiting on the church steps, was thrust back in time into the Paris of his dreams, a carefree, chaotic world of creation. With the Pantheon, where France has buried its heroes, just steps away, we are in the realm of greatness. But will the average traveler experience the same kind of magic as Allen’s hero?

Perhaps not. But at least there are restaurants galore.

Rodin was not educated at the École des Beaux-Arts, the most elevated school for the training of French artists, but his works achieved worldwide recognition in his own lifetime and his reputation continues to grow to this day. His genius was to express the inner truths of the human psyche and his gaze penetrated beneath the external appearance of the world. Exploring this realm beneath the surface, Rodin developed an agile technique for rendering extreme physical states which correspond to expressions of inner turmoil or overwhelming joy. Rodin was obsessed with myths, both ancient and modern, and his works commonly evoke classical mythology, the Bible, and the Divine Comedyof Dante, as well as the macabre modern Paris described in the poems of Charles Baudelaire. Deriving inspiration from such literary sources, Rodin sculpted a universe of great passion and tragedy, a world of imagination that exceeded the mundane reality of everyday existence.

Technically, Rodin introduced some very important innovations to the history of sculpture. His ability to make his figures lifelike caused him to be accused of modeling his sculptures directly from live subjects. The heightened expressive intensity of his works introduced a whole generation of artists to the potential for expressing internal depth through external features. In his Monument to Balzac, Rodin took his expressive technique to a new level, producing a figure of a great genius at the moment of his inspiration, wrapped in a cloak in the middle of the night. Though Rodin had made countless studies from life for this monument, he discarded these renderings in order to marry the expressive intensity of his modeling with the brilliance of the subject. This parallel between technique and subject, combined with the courage to throw away years of work in order to achieve a higher level of expression, mark Rodin as a unique and powerful artist.


Timeline of Rodin and major events in world:

Rodin and his sister Maria, c. 1859

  • United States Civil War; Franco-Prussian War
  • Victor Hugo writes Les Misérables; Dostoyevsky writes Crime and Punishment
  • Deaths of Henry Thoreau, Charles Dickens, and Alexandre Dumas
  • Karl Marx’s Das Kapital published in 1867; Suez canal opens in 1869
  • Napoleon III holds “Salon de Refusés” to exhibit works rejected by the Academy.

  • Rodin is discharged from the National Guard for nearsightedness
  • Works in Belgium with Carrier-Belleuse in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War; returns to Paris in 1877
  • Sees Michelangelo’s work in Florence
  • Creates Saint John the Baptist Preaching in 1878 and The Call to Arms in 1879
  • Commission for The Gates of Hell, 1880
  • German Empire proclaimed by Otto von Bismarck, 1871
  • The word “impressionism” is coined; Whistler paints portrait of his mother
  • Jules Verne publishes Around the World in Eighty Days; Tolstoy writes Anna Karenina
  • Sioux defeat Custer at Little Bighorn, 1876
  • Joseph Stalin is born, 1879

  • meets Camille Claudel in 1883
  • Commission for The Burghers of Calais, 1884; definitive model shown in a joint exhibition with Monet at Galerie Georges Petite in Paris, 1889
  • Original plaster example of The Kiss, 1886; French government purchases a marble version in 1888
  • Commission for the Monument to Victor Hugo, 1889

Rodin in his studio

  • Freedom of the press established in France; trade unions legalized
  • Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, and Adolf Hitler are born
  • Deaths of Victor Hugo, Vincent van Gogh, and Karl Marx
  • Statue of Liberty erected; Eiffel Tower built
  • Rapid expansion of railways in the western United States

  • Rodin receives commission for Balzac monument, 1891
  • Elected president of the sculpture section of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts
  • Ends relationship with Camille Claudel
  • Rodin’s marble sculpture is in great demand; he creates The Hand of God in marble, 1898
  • Retrospective, Paris World Exposition, 1900
  • Sigmund Freud publishes The Interpretation of Dreams
  • Paul Gauguin settles in Tahiti; Aubrey Beardsley spreads art nouveau style; the symbolist movement is active
  • Tate Gallery opens in London
  • Nobel Prize instituted; the Paris subway opens
  • Alfred Dreyfus arrested for treason, 1894; pardoned, 1899

  • Rodin is visited by Edward Steichen and King Edward VII
  • The Thinker is installed at the Panthéon in Paris
  • Rodin experiments with enlargements of partial figures such as The Cathedral, 1908, and The Hand from the Tomb, 1910
  • Picasso has first exhibition in Paris; paints Les Demoiselles d-Avignon
  • Deaths of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Whistler, and Paul Cézanne
  • Futurist movement active in Italy
  • Separation of church and state in France

  • Rodin travels despite wartime difficulties; his sculpture is shown throughout Europe
  • Bequeaths his estate to France in 1916
  • Marries Rose Beuret on January 29, 1917; she dies three weeks later
  • Rodin dies November 17, 1917, and is laid to rest at Meudon

Also reproduced in Descharnes & Descharnes.

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