January Rodin was notified that he had been selected by the committee and on the 28th
a contract was signed between the two parties.
The initial maquette for The burghers of Calais was first cast in bronze in 1970. The
example in the Australian National Gallery's collection is the ninth of an edition of
twelve and was cast by the Goddard Foundry, Paris, in 1894. A variant which includes
the pedestal also exists in an edition of twelve bronze casts. The maquette in the
Gallery's collection does not include the block-like pedestal that supported the figures
when first presented to the Calais committee. This tall base was not developed further
however, and was superseded by the more radical idea of placing the figures directly on
the ground. Rodin elaborated this startlingly original notion to Paul Gsell:
I did not want a pedestal for these figures. I wanted them to be placed on, even affixed
to, the paving stones of the square in front of the town hall in Calais so that it looked
as if they were leaving in order to go to the enemy camp. In this way they would have
been, as it were, mixed with the daily life of the town: passersby would have elbowed
them, and they would have felt through this contact the emotion of the living past in
their midst; they would have said to themselves: 'Our ancestors are our neighbours and
our models, and the day when it will be granted to us to imitate their example, we
would show that we have not degenerated from it ' … But the commissioning body
understood nothing of the desires I expressed. They thought I was mad … Statues
without a pedestal! Where had that ever been seen before? There must be a pedestal;
there was no way of getting around it.
Ultimately the Burghers were positioned, against Rodin's recommendation, on a pedestal
In 1884 the Municipal Council of the
town of Calais proposed the erection of a
monument to celebrate an act of heroism
by its citizens during the Hundred Years
War. Calais in 1347 had been besieged by
the forces of the English king, Edward
III, and after a long and bitter resistance
was forced to capitulate. Edwards agreed
to spare the city if six of the town's
leading citizens would surrender the keys
to the city and their lives into his hands.
Dressed in sackcloth and wearing nooses
around their necks, the six volunteers
walked to the English camp and
presented themselves to the king. At the
intercession of Edward's queen the six
hostages were spared.
Rodin was approached with the proposal
in September 1884 by the mayor of
Calais, M. Omer Dewavrin, and by
November 1884 the artist had completed
a maquette for the monument. Although
the original plan was to represent only
one of the burghers, Eustache de Saint
Pierre, the eldest burgher and the first to
volunteer, Rodin's maquette showed all
six burghers. And, rather than portraying
the burghers as they confronted the
English king, as was customary in earlier
depictions of this episode, Rodin chose
the moment when they are just setting
out to walk to the English camp.
Later he told Paul Gsell:
I have not shown them grouped in a
triumphant apotheosis, such a
glorification of their heroism would not
have corresponded to anything real. On
the contrary, I have, as it were, threaded
them one behind the other, because in the
indecision of that last inner combat
which ensues between their cause and
their fear of dying, each of them is
isolated in front of his conscience. They
are still questioning themselves to know
if they have the strength to accomplish
the supreme sacrifice — their soul pushes
them onward, but their feet refuse to
walk. They drag themselves along
painfully, as much because of the
feebleness to which famine has reduced
them as because of the terrifying nature
of the sacrifice … If I have succeeded in
showing how much the body, weakened
by the most cruel sufferings, still holds on
to life, how much power it still has over
the spirit that is consumed with bravery, I
congratulate myself on not having
remained beneath the noble theme I have
The maquette was presented to the
committee in January 1885, together with
submissions by sculptors Emile François
Chatrousse (1829-96) and Laurent-
Honoré Marqueste (1848-1920). On 20
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|Aswer to Quiz #340
January 22, 2012
|1. Auguste Rodin.
2. The six burghers of Calais surrendering to King Edward III of England
in return for sparing the city in 1347.
3. In front of the Calais Town Square.
|Comments from Our Readers
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Arthur Hartwell Nicole Blank
Carol Farrant Suzan Farris
Diane Burkett Angel Esparza
Cate Bloomquist Marla Santiago
Donna Jolley Betty Chambers
Sally Garrison Alex Sissoev
Maria Davis Jim Baker
Nelsen Spickard Margaret Paxton
Michelle Fontaine Barbara Mroz
Daniel Jolley Dennis Brann
Jim Kiser Janice Sellers
Richard Wakeham Arthur Hartwell
Gary Sterne John Chulick
Judy Pfaff Justin Campoli
Peter Norton Joyce Veness
It was impossible to not immediately recognize this sculpture as the work of Auguste
Rodin. I'm not a big Rodin fan (I do like Rodan, though.), but I was drawn to the
casting of this sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Legion of Honor here in San Francisco has lots of work by Rodin. Most of them
are little, but there is a big "The Thinker" in the front courtyard. If you go to
www.thinker.org it takes your right to our fine arts museums. With respect to Rodin, I
was on over load decades ago.
Gee, my French teacher in high school was very memorable. We were forbidden to
wear charm bracelets because they made too much noise. And, if we sniffed, she
would stop the class and bring us a box of Kleenex and stand there until we blew our
nose. Miss Parker was one of a kind, thank goodness.
The sheer torture of an arduous walk straight into hell is unfathomable. How does one
keep from going mad? Carol Farrant
I was able to get to the quiz this week - typed in Google "sculpture of six men" in
images and it popped up on the first page. :)
I don't ever remember hearing anything about Rodin in all my years of French class
either (though I heard his name in my head said the 'French way' instead of Anglicizing
it, guess you never lose that). And I've never heard of this statue as being a part of
French history though it should have been included.
I need to start visiting museums again now that the kids are older and would appreciate
it with me. What a wonderful way to while away an afternoon. :) Nicole Blank
LOL! I saw the sculpture and decided to give Rodin a shot (not because I knew it, or
because it looks like him, which most of the bronzes do.. Hehe)... Bronze -- Rodin..
And it was!!! Alex Sissoev
It helps to solve a quiz if you have actually been to Musee Rodinin Paris. I did not have
to look far to find the answers. He was truly brillant and the Musee is a fabulous visit.
I knew last weeks quiz had something to do with the Soltice and sunrise/sunset but too
tied up to persue. Got todays done early. Thanks, I look as forward to this as the daily
crossword puzzle. Jim Kiser
When I was at Stanford, they had a collection of Rodin, but most in storage; where I
was taken on tour. Since then, they have liberated their collection; interestingly the
group is displayed at Stanford with the figures separated. Nelson Spickard
Found the image by searching for "bronze sculpture of six men
barefoot ropes around neck"
OMG this is the most moving sculpture. I visit it often at Stanford University, Palo
Alto, CA. The Burgers are separate instead of placed on the same base and are in front
of the Iris B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts. Stanford also has a Rodin Gardens
with the Gates of Hell, The Thinker and many other Rodin statues. I have many
pictures. My first visit was at night which although lit, has very odd shadows. I
definitely recommend a visit to the campus to see these awesome works by Rodin.
You should take a trip to Stanford and tour the campus. The Thinker is posed near the
top of the "Gates of Hell" sculpture. It is amazing to see all the pieces put together in
This was one of my fastest finds as I just googled "Burghers of Calais.". No doubts in
my mind that this was the right one. It took a little searching to find the first casting
As a side I was a Dobie Gillis fan. The show' would have a segment with Dobie by the
statue thinking. When I first found out my son was going to Stanford, my goal other
than to tour the Gates Building (yes, for the famous Bill) was to see "The Thinker".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Many_Loves_of_Dobie_Gillis Judy Pfaff
I visited the Rodin Museum in Paris a few years ago and don't remember a mention of
this sculpture. What brave men to volunteer to go to the death for the town. It took me
a few attempts to find an article about it, it wasn't that easy! Betty Chambers
Of course, the nature of the subject made it an awesome challenge for the sculptor - to
try to capture the feelings of those men. John Chulick
Worked this one up to the wire with no clue as to what it was !!!!!, I am completely
stumped !!!!, I have no idea. Looking forward to seeing what it is, you got me this
week !!!! Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
|Searching google images for "statue" produced many immaterial
images.Googling "Famous Sculptor" was too broad a brush. "Famous
bronz sculptor" listed the Bronz Sculptor Studios. Their classical
category showed a miniature of Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin,
and gave a short explanation of the statue. I now had enough with
which to enter Wikipedia. Under Auguste Rodin was the quiz image
of the statue at the Hershorm Museum and Scullpture Gardens,
Washington DC. Interesting the statue was commissioned to
commemorate Eustache de Saint Pierre, the first burgher to
volunteer, but ended up commemorating all six.
As usual, when you ask the right question, you get the right answer.
When I first looked at the picture I had one of those moments of
despair in which I felt that I simply could not glean enough
information to know where to start; then I thought about your email I
had read earlier in the day in which you said, "As usual, all the
information you need to solve the puzzle is right in front of you."
"All right," says I, "what do I see?"
So I Googled "bronze sculpture six figures rope". The first hit was
"The Burghers of Calais"- Wikipedia.
The story is as old as the Hundred Years’ War. The city of Calais had been under siege
for 11 months, and conditions were dire. King Edward III offered terms: he would
spare the city if six of the most important men (burghers) surrendered themselves,
dressed in plainclothes and wearing nooses around their necks. He intended to kill
them, and they knew it. Six men volunteered. Stripping themselves of all the finery that
set them apart as rich or important, they donned nooses and left the city, walking
barefoot toward the enemy encampment and certain death.
Rodin chose to sculpt this moment–when each man’s love of his city grapples with his
own fear of death. They wear only loose tunics, garments which hang on them like
beggars’ rags. Their skin is stretched taught, revealing skeletal cheekbones and sunken
eyes. These men are heroes, not gods, and Rodin emphasizes the pain of their struggle
as the defining moment of bravery. Writing to Paul Gsell, he explained,
In the indecision of that last inner combat which ensues between their cause and their
fear of dying, each of them is isolated in front of his conscience. They are still
questioning themselves to know if they have the strength to accomplish the supreme
sacrifice — their soul pushes them onward, but their feet refuse to walk… If I have
succeeded in showing how much the body, weakened by the most cruel sufferings, still
holds on to life, how much power it still has over the spirit that is consumed with
bravery, I congratulate myself on not having remained beneath the noble theme I have
Each figure has a different struggle, but all are noble and all are pitiable. The oldest in
the group (Jean d’Aire) bears the key to the city, an emblem of the cause of their noble
sacrifice. His entire body is rigid with resolve: he faces death, but must brace himself.
The key is enormous, a considerable weight and burden which must be born.
The posture of the central figure (Eustache de Saint-Pierre) is similar. His arms are
slightly raised, as if they are guiding his steps forward. His eyes are downcast but he
still holds his head up. His stance acknowledges defeat, but does so honorably and
To his right (our left) is the most famous pose of the group. The young man (Pierre de
Wiessant) turns aside, his head downcast, his right arm gesturing questioningly before
his face. Reminiscent of Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be”, this figure finds surrender
more difficult. Just behind him, a fourth burgher (Jean de Fiennes) walks slowly, his
arms slightly extended in a feeble plea for an easier fate.
Hidden from our view by Eustache, a fifth man (Jacques de Wiessant) hesitates slightly
as he walks, brow furrowed as he contemplates the end that is sure to come. The sixth
and final figure (Andrieu d’Andres) is the most heart-rending. He leans forward,
toward death, but buries his head in his hands, grieving the family whom he leaves
The nooses round the men’s necks are ambiguous: at times they are draped like medals
and decorative cords, at others they appear snakelike and threatening. Sometimes the
rope just hangs limp, as helpless as its bearer. These cords are at once medallions and
death sentences, badges of honor and yokes of shame.
The figures are cast in bronze, slightly over life-size. Rodin wanted to install them
without pedestals (much like our Korean War memorial in DC) but was not permitted.
I wanted them to be placed on the paving stones of the square in front of the town hall
in Calais so that it looked as if they were leaving in order to go to the enemy camp. In
this way they would have been mixed with the daily life of the town: passersby would
have elbowed them, and they would have felt through this contact the emotion of the
living past in their midst.
Though these heroes were willing to die for their city, they were not required to. As it
turned out, the English queen talked the king out of executing them. Jean Froissart
recorded the incident, and its unexpected ending:
The queen of England, who at that time was very big with child, fell on her knees, and
with tears said, “…I most humbly ask as a gift… that you will be merciful to these six
The king looked at her for some time in silence, and then said; “… you have entreated
in such a manner that I cannot refuse you; I therefore give them to you, to do as you
please with them.” The queen conducted the six citizens to her apartments, and had the
halters taken from round their necks, after which she new clothed them, and served
them with a plentiful dinner: she then presented each with six nobles, and had them
escorted out of the camp in safety.
carrying the keys to the city and pointing dramatically
to the English camp. In the second maquette he is
still in the front rank of burghers, but here he stoops
under the burden of his decision, his arms drooping
by his sides. Reviewing the second maquette, the
committee particularly objected to 'the despondency
shown by Eustache de Saint Pierre'. Rodin replied
that at best he would be prepared to alter 'the one
who is in despair' (Andrieu d'Andres), but not
Eustache de Saint Pierre, who 'is the first to descend
and for my lines he needs to be like this'.
For the following studies of Eustache de Saint Pierre
Rodin used several models. His friend Jean-Charles
Cazin posed for the first nude study of 1886; for a
second, made in 1886-87, he probably used
Pignatelli, the Italian model he had used for his John
the Baptist preaching 1878. Eustache de Saint Pierre
in the Gallery's collection is the first of four casts
reserved for museums from an edition of twelve and
was cast by the Courbertin Foundry, Paris, in 1984
|Eustache de Saint-Pierre
Cast by Georges Rudier, 1964
Musee Rodin, Paris
from the plaster in the Musée Rodin, Paris. A reduction of this figure, measuring 47.0
cm (18½"), exists, as does an edition of the head.
In the final version of Jean d'Aire, Rodin has placed a massive single key in the hands
of the figure, replacing the pillow supporting a number of smaller keys that appeared in
the second maquette. The figure of Jean d'Aire in the Gallery's collection is the seventh
in an edition of twelve and was cast by the Susse Foundry, Paris, in 1974, from the
plaster in the Musée Rodin, Paris.
In his Chronicle, Jean Froissart describes Pierre de Wiessant simply as the brother of
Jaques de Wiessant, owner of a rich country estate and
the fourth burgher to volunteer. In the first maquette of
1884, Rodin has already given him his final gesture, the
raised arm. In the second maquette the gesture is
refined, and retained in the subsequent nude studies and
in the final figure for the monument. One of the nude
studies for Pierre de Wiessant, a partial figure missing
head and hands, provides interesting evidence of Rodin's
method of adding and removing parts. The right hand
used for Pierre de Wiessant is also used for Jaques de
Wiessant and the same features are used in the heads of
Jean d'Aire, Andrieu de Andres and Jaques de Wiessant.
The head of Pierre de Wiessant is thought to have been
modelled on the features of Coquelin Cadet, a popular
comedian of the time. Pierre de Wiessant in the Gallery's
collection is the first in an edition of twelve and was cast
by the Susse Foundry, Paris, in 1974. A reduction of
this figure was cast and issued in an edition of twelve in
1890. A cast of the head of Pierre de Wiessant was
of medium height designed by one of the members
of the committee when the monument was finally
inaugurated in 1895.
After the initial maquette for The burghers of Calais
had been accepted by the committee Rodin began a
second maquette, consisting of individual figures,
which was displayed in Calais in August 1885. By
then he had already started work on nude studies
that exist for at least four of the six figures in the
monument. In a letter of 14 July 1885 Rodin
indicated that preliminary work on the nude studies
was complete and that they were ready for
enlargement: 'My nudes are done, that is to say the
lower layer, and I am going to have them executed
definitively, so as not to lose time. You see it is the
part that is not seen that is the most important, and
it is finished'. The Australian National Gallery has
|The notion of collective
sacrifice was emphasized even
in the first maquette.The six
figures, not yet individualized,
were presented on the same
plane, one next to the other,
with no visible order of
importance and all clad in the
loose garments of men about to
be executed. They were placed
on a very high rectangular base,
adorned with bas-reliefs, which
formed a triumphal pedestal.
This first maquette was greeted
enthusiastically by the
committee. Rodin was officially
awarded the commission for the
two life-size casts of the nude studies, Nude study for Jean d'Aire c.1885-86, and Nude
study for Jean de Fiennes c.1885-86.
In the account of the surrender of Calais given in the Chronicles of the fourteenth-
century historian Jean Froissart, Jean d'Aire is nominated as the second of the burghers
to have offered himself as a hostage: 'Then another greatly respected and wealthy
citizen, who had two beautiful daughters, stood up and said that he would go with his
friend, master Eustache de St Pierre'. In each of the maquettes and in the final
monument, Jean d'Aire is appropriately placed beside Eustache de Saint Pierre — to his
left in the first and second maquettes, and to his right in the final arrangement.
Although the posture of the nude study for Jean d'Aire is similar to the figure in the
second maquette that preceded it, a number of small changes exist and are carried over
to the final monument. The position of the legs, once advancing one in front of the
other, are here spread apart and immobile. The head, once drooping, is here raised,
conveying, with the new disposition of the legs, a sense of steadfastness, even defiance.
In making these changes Rodin may have been responding to criticisms of the second
maquette by the committee, who remarked that the burghers' 'defeated postures offend
our religious feelings'.
The Nude study for Jean d'Aire in the Gallery's collection is the third in an edition of
twelve and was cast by the Georges Rudier Foundry, Paris, in 1973 from the plaster in
the Musée Rodin, Paris. In addition to the life-size nude study, a later reduced version
measuring 105 cm in height exists in a similar edition.
Jean de Fiennes was not identified in Jean Froissart's Chronicles and his name only
came to light in 1863 when Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove published a manuscript found
in the Vatican library naming Jean de Fiennes and Andrieu d'Andres as the two unknown
burghers. The pose of Jean de Fiennes is little changed from the open-armed, slightly
turning attitude established in the second maquette, and is carried through to the final
figure with only small refinements. The Nude study of Jean de Fiennes in the Gallery's
collection is the first in an edition of twelve and was cast by the Georges Rudier
Foundry, Paris, in 1974 from the plaster in the Musée Rodin, Paris.
In June 1886 Rodin received further funds from the committee for the development of
individual figures for the monument. Edmond de Goncourt, in his journal, reported
having seen 'life-size clay studies for the six hostages of Calais' during a visit to Rodin's
studio on the afternoon of 17 April 1886. Three of the completed figures in plaster were
exhibited at the George Petit Gallery in Paris in 1887; two more were exhibited there in
1888, and finally all six were shown in 1889 at the exhibition held jointly with Claude
The Australian National Gallery has casts of four of the six figures intended for the final
monument, Eustache de Saint Pierre, Jean d'Aire, Pierre de Wiessant and Andrieu
In the first maquette of 1884, Eustache de Saint Pierre occupies a prominent position,
separately issued at much the same time. By 1908 a monumental head was also
Like Jean de Fiennes, the name of Andrieu d'Andres is not mentioned by Jean Froissart
in his Chronicle, but was also uncovered in 1863 by Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove. the
first maquette shows Andrieu de Andres already clutching his head in despair, the pose
that was singled out for criticism when it reappeared in the second maquette. As with
the figures of Jean d'Aire and Jaques de Wiessant, the head of this figure appears to be
modelled on Rodin's son Auguste Beuret. The figure of Andrieu d'Andres in the
Gallery's collection is the first of four casts reserved for museums from an edition of
twelve cast by the Courbertin Foundry, Paris, in 1985 from the plaster in the Musée
Rodin, Paris. A reduction of the figure was made in about 1890 and also exists in an
edition of twelve.
|monument and the price was set at 15,000 francs.
He then pursued his investigations into the identity of each figure and
made them express the different feelings experienced by men on the
verge of death: despair, resignation, courage, impassiveness or
uncertainty.He modelled them directly in their actual size, first
unclothed, then clothed in the type of tunics worn by the condemned
men. He arranged real shirts dipped in plaster on the nude studies, so
that the bodily build could be seen under the garments.
|Eustache de la Pierre & Jean D'Aire