The Musée Bourdelle

The Musée Bourdelle, located in Paris's historic Montparnasse district, reopened in March 2023 after undergoing significant renovation, most importantly of the artist's atelier.

Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), known primarily for his sculptures and his work on the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (inaugurated in 1913), was also a prolific painter and his work includes many drawings as well. His drawings and ink washes reveal an artist who embraced the spirit of fin de siècle and shared the same milieu as Symbolist poets who had inherited the legacy of Baudelaire and Mallarmé, while the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées is an Art Deco masterpiece.

For Parisians in the know, the Musée Bourdelle is a classic museum to visit away from the crowds, in part because it is much less known to many a traveller to Paris. As the museum has recently reopened, we invite our readers to discover a little bit of this unique space and the artist behind it.

Back Wall of Bourdelle's Atelier, © Douglas Arthur Pierce

Antoine Bourdelle was born in 1861 in the town of Montauban, near Toulouse, in the southwest of France. After having received a first scholarship to the Académie des beaux-arts of Toulouse in 1876, seven years later he entered a competition to continue his studies in Paris. He came in second place with his sculpture Telemachus received by Nestor at Pylos. The sculpture depicts a scene described in both the Iliad and the Odyssey (book 17):

we went to Pylos and to Nestor, the shepherd of the people, and he received me in his lofty house and gave me kindly welcome, as a father might his own son who after a long time had newly come from afar: even so kindly he tended me with his glorious sons

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