An object a day #5: The Cathedral by Rodin

Mon 13 Apr 2020 Opinion

Every day for 30 days we will be featuring a museum object that has inspired or intrigued us, in the hope that “an object a day keeps the doctor away.” We love creating exciting, meaningful storytelling through engaging experiences, but still firmly believe that it is hard to beat the thrill of being in the presence of authentic artefacts. Today’s object is: the Cathedral by Rodin.

The Cathedral is on display in the Musée Rodin in Paris

Rodin loved hands. The Cathedral depicts two right hands about to touch.

Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917) is considered the father of modern sculpture; he possessed a unique ability to model a complex and deeply pocketed surface in clay. He was a controversial figure in his day.

He would often do individual studies of hands as if they were passed down to us from antiquity. But, like so much of his work, they were unmistakably modern. And, more than any other sculpture I know, you become aware of the air around the palms and between the fingers almost as much as the solid material itself.

Carved in stone in 1908 and still covered in toolmarks, The Cathedral is a combination of two right hands, belonging to two different figures. Very similar to The Secret, this work belongs to a series carved in marble, most frequently after 1900, such as The Hand of GodThe Hand of the DevilHands of Lovers and Hand from the Tomb.

First opened to the public in 1919, the Musée Rodin is housed in what is now known as the Hôtel Biron on Rue de Varenne, Paris. Nearly 300 works from Rodin’s collection are on view in this grand house and its gardens. As with so much in Paris, it is best visited with someone you love.

Musée Rodin is currently closed. Check website for details.