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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Founded: 1889
Category: Statues in France

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Boyko TK (8 months ago)
A curious fact about all the monuments created by Rodin is that under a French law no more than twelve original casts of his works may be made ?!? Other eleven original casts of the Burghers (Les Bourgeois) of Calais are stand at: 1. Glyptoteket in Copenhagen, cast 1903. 2. the Musée royal de Mariemont in Morlanwelz, Belgium, cast 1905. 3. Victoria Tower Gardens in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament in London; cast 1908, installed on this site in 1914 and unveiled 19 July 1915. 4. the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, cast 1925 and installed in 1929. 5. the gardens of the Musée Rodin in Paris, cast 1926 and given to the museum in 1955. 6. Kunstmuseum in Basel, cast 1943 and installed in 1948. 7. the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, cast 1943 and installed in 1966. 8. the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo, cast 1953 and installed in 1959. 9. the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, cast 1968. 10. the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, cast 1985 and installed in 1989. 11. Plateau (formerly called Rodin Gallery and closed since 2016) in Seoul. This is the twelfth and final original cast and was cast in 1995. (Excerpt from Wikipedia/EN)
Zamir-Bek Tas (8 months ago)
Everything is beautiful and beautiful everywhere! And the people are friendly and peaceful!
Hardy Omer (9 months ago)
So amazing
Liliana'89 Turcan (13 months ago)
Wonderful place...we'll come back!!!
Dee Youngs (13 months ago)
They're statues erected in front of the town beautiful landscapes..worth a see
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