The Burghers of Calais

Calais, France

Les Bourgeois de Calais is one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1889. It serves as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year. Calais commissioned Rodin to create the sculpture in 1884.

The City of Calais had attempted to erect a statue of Eustache de Saint Pierre, eldest of the burghers, since 1845. Two prior artists were prevented from executing the sculpture: the first, David d'Angers, by his death and the second, Auguste Clésinger, by the Franco-Prussian War. In 1884 the municipal corporation of the city invited several artists, Rodin amongst them, to submit proposals for the project.

Rodin's design was controversial. The public had a lack of appreciation for it because it didn't have 'overtly heroic antique references' which were considered integral to public sculpture. It was not a pyramidal arrangement and contained no allegorical figures. It was intended to be placed at ground level, rather than on a pedestal. The burghers were not presented in a positive image of glory; instead, they display 'pain, anguish and fatalism'. To Rodin, this was nevertheless heroic, the heroism of self-sacrifice.

In 1895 the monument was installed in Calais on a large pedestal in front of a Parc Richelieu, a public park, contrary to the sculptor's wishes, who wanted contemporary townsfolk to 'almost bump into' the figures and feel solidarity with them. Only later was his vision realised, as in 1926 the sculpture was moved in front of the newly completed town hall of Calais, where it rests on a much lower base.

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Details

Founded: 1889
Category: Statues in France

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Aline V (14 months ago)
One of the most beautiful place in Calais
I colburn (2 years ago)
You have to visit it!You'll love it like we did!
ADRIAN GAGE (2 years ago)
Worth a look, there is a free bus to the monument and around the town
Nick Case-Leng (2 years ago)
Rodin's statues (a group of 6) are well worth delaying your autoroute journey for. Easy and free access on a plinth in the car park outside the town hall. A tribute to the town leaders of Calais who bravely resisted invasion and then had to surrender themselves in full expectation of death. Rodin portrays a range of emotional responses in their facial expressions and body language. The hands and feet are proportionally large to draw your attention to what they are expressing - anger, fear, despair, resignation.
Oana R (2 years ago)
Loved to admire Auguste Rodin work! The sculpture is "speaking" its story! Good placement in front of the Town Hall of Calais!
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