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Monument to the Burghers of Calais, First Maquette (Monument des Bourgeois de Calais, première maquette)

European Art

On View:
This is a cast of the initial maquette, or model, that Rodin submitted to the town council of Calais to secure the commission for The Burghers of Calais monument. Departing from the council’s original suggestion to focus just on Eustache de Saint-Pierre, he decided to include the other five burghers: Jean d’Aire, brothers Jacques and Pierre de Wiessant, Andrieu d’Andres, and Jean de Fiennes. He arranged the tightly packed figures in three groups, each facing a different direction. This composition enabled him to examine the idea of collective sacrifice while also exploring individual responses through a variety of poses and facial expressions.

In this first model, the burghers are physically intertwined and elevated on a substantial base. As the project progressed, the appearance of each figure evolved, and Rodin made them independent of each other. He also abandoned the pedestal in favor of a more emotionally immediate siting:
I did not want any pedestal for these statues. I wanted them to be placed on, or even affixed to, the paving stones of the public square in front of the Hôtel de Ville in Calais, so that it looked as if they were leaving there in order to go out to the enemy camp. In this way, they would have. . . mixed with the daily life of the town: passersby would have elbowed them, and they would have felt keenly through this contact the emotion of the living past in their midst.
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES November 1884, cast ca. 1967
    DIMENSIONS 23 3/4 x 14 7/8 x 13 in. (60.3 x 37.8 x 33 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Proper left side of pedestal: "E. GODARD FOND.r PARIS" Bottom edge of pedestal: "© by MUSEE RODIN"
    SIGNATURE Front, top of base: "A. Rodin"
    INSCRIPTIONS Front, top of base: "No 1"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917). Monument to the Burghers of Calais, First Maquette (Monument des Bourgeois de Calais, première maquette), November 1884, cast ca. 1967. Bronze, 23 3/4 x 14 7/8 x 13 in. (60.3 x 37.8 x 33 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, 84.75.19. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.75.19_large_SL3.jpg)
    EDITION Edition: 1/12
    IMAGE overall, 84.75.19_large_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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